How Digital Imaging Will Change Water Monitoring

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How Digital Imaging Will Change Water Monitoring

Digital imaging gives us the best advantages of both visual identification and electronic monitoring.  digital-imaging-water-monitoring_hydrology-corner-blog.png

The Riverflow 2016 conference had a full session on recent research in image-based measurements and video analysis. It is exciting to watch innovation in process as these researchers learn to exploit the capabilities of emerging consumer technologies. Never mind that the primary use of these technologies is so that people can instantly share their sense of place in the ‘real world’ within the virtual world where they really spend their lives. Without the billions of people motivated to lay claim to their physical existence with photos and videos, the technology for water monitoring using digital imaging would neither be accessible nor affordable. 

We can be glad that this technology is both affordable and accessible. For us, it is the ‘real world’ that is our primary focus.

In the beginning, if someone needed to know how deep or fast a river was they would look at the river to ‘see’ if the current condition met their requirements. Eventually, we developed technologies that replaced these visual observations with mechanical – and then electronic – measurements of water elevation (and other parameters) that could be recorded continuously.

Summary of advantages of both visual identification and electronic monitoring of digital imaging:

In spite of an increase in cost of an order of magnitude (relative to mechanical current meters), hydroacoustic technologies for streamflow measurement went from a status of ‘interesting research’ to being the mainstream ‘go-to’ tool for hydrographers all over the world in the span of a decade or so. Given the relatively low cost of image-based monitoring technology, the ability to measure the unmeasurable, and the relative safety benefits, I doubt that it will take that long for image-based monitoring to become a dominant technology for water monitoring. 

Source: Aquatic Informatics