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SmartRAIN: an IoT-based solution for real time rain mapping

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SmartRAIN (SmartRAIN: an IoT-based solution for real time rain mapping)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2016-11-30

The results of the work done in this six-months project led to some evolution of the strategic vision at the core of our business idea, an IoT solution based on image processing for abating the costs and improving the quality of real time rain mapping. With respect to the first concept of using both IP surveillance cameras (the Nodes) and smartphones (the Sentinels) to gather rainy images for measuring rainfall, we decided to rely only on the first category of devices.
IP cameras (the new technological standard in video surveillance, with increasing sensor quality and computational power) can autonomously and continuously shoot images to be processed for rain measurement, while smartphones, due to the lack of clear strategies to engage citizens in an active and enduring crowdsourcing of significant rainy images, resulted to be a less reliable source of precipitation data. Consequently, we decided to freeze the development of a dedicated Sentinel app, at least until we haven't identified a strategy, or a sustainable business model, to effectively engage citizens.
While characterizing the customer landscape, we concluded that the EU landscape of civil protection agencies is highly fragmented both in terms of authorities and territorial competences, and hence extremely difficult to penetrate in a profitable way. At the same time, we realized the importance of road networks in the context of civil protection, and turned our attention to their managers, to assess their monitoring and early warning activities. Road managers have their own interest in rain monitoring (they must ensure drivers safety) and usually already have camera networks which may be enhanced for rain gauging. Furthermore, roads usually extend over large distances, thus representing ideal transects for monitoring precipitations over large territories. Then rain data collected along the roads may be shared with environmental and civil protection agencies or sold to private subjects such as weather forecasters, with a positive return not only for people on the move, but for everyone.
We hence decided to better tune our business plan by focusing on the market of transports and smart mobility, giving our contribution to the “zero fatalities by 2050” goal declared by EU in its White Paper on Transport. To achieve this goal we started development and commercial partnerships with companies which have the potential to address this segment at both a European and a global scale.
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