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Flood Beacon warns of danger in real time

Floods can be fast-moving and unpredictable, but a new gadget aims to get detailed data into the hands of the people who need it most, in time to make a difference.

Flood Beacon
The Flood Beacon prototype floats on water. Samuel Cox

Floods are tricky beasts. Waters can rise quickly, often with little warning, overwhelming efforts to battle them and protect people and property. Designer Samuel Cox created the Flood Beacon, an Internet-connected gadget designed to share fast and accurate data on flood conditions.

Cox sat down and watched a video from a flood hackathon earlier this year. "I noticed that all the flood data available was purely based on predictions. No data was available in real time and we know very little about the present state of floods until it's too late," he tells CNET. This realization inspired him to build the prototype for the Flood Beacon.

The beacon can be anchored in a high-risk flooding area or left to float freely. Its purpose is to send out live, real-time information on water levels, GPS coordinates, and water movements. It's designed to have low power requirements and use solar power to stay charged up.

Cox is in the process of conducting some exploratory talks with local councils and businesses in the UK regarding distribution. He is currently testing and validating results for the working prototype. The ultimate goal would be to deploy Flood Beacons in rivers, lakes, and floodplains. The devices would then send out alerts and push notifications when flood conditions increase, giving people more time to prepare or evacuate as needed.

This isn't the first time Cox has come up with a creative real-time tech solution for an unusual problem. He also designed the BitTag, a physical price tag for use in stores that reflects Bitcoin price changes. As interesting as the BitTag is, the Flood Beacon has the potential to be a life-saver.