A few years ago, the latest buzz word was "Augmented Reality". The plan was that we would all be using our cellphones to display more information about the world around us by pointing our cameras. The hype was that we'd be able to walk past restaurants, point our cameras, and get the latest Yelp review or menu or discount voucher. But as with many things, the hype didn't live up to the reality. We are still directly searching through websites for information but, in the industrial world, as we've seen with Google Glass, the ability to see large amounts of data in real-time can be a huge benefit to many industries.
In terms of flood prevention, the common approach is to place digital and analog water level monitoring equipment at strategic locations and receive data back at a control center. However, across the many thousands of miles of waterways winding through the world's countries, installing hardware at strategic locations is a very expensive investment.
But now, in Indonesia, the water bureau with the help of Fujitsu is implementing an augmented reality system which allows observers to point their camera phones at AR markers on walls and superimpose the information on an app which measures the depth of the river. The data from this app is sent to a data center where it is plotted on maps and in graphs.
This was a short trial and engineers were responsible for reporting the data but if it's rolled out across the country, any public spirited person with a camera phone could participate in the project and send information to the rivers department thereby saving costs and providing a more reliable service. This increased amount of data will help engineers and planners watch for patterns and plan for future flood defenses.