Nevada

The Edge to Edge project aims to help communities better cope with wildfires and other natural disasters.

 

A recently launched interdisciplinary project led by the College of Engineering aims to collaborate with local organizations and eventually citizen scientists to study environmental conditions. The data collected through the Elements: Innovation for Edge-to-Edge Climate Services project can help communities better cope with wildfires and other natural disasters.

The reflection of researcher Scotty Strachan is visible in the sensor.

Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Sergiu Dascalu is leading the project, which includes the installation of temperature, snow and soil sensors in populated and wild areas in the Tahoe Basin. The sensors will connect to new secure gateways on the existing Nevada Higher Education (NSHE) NevadaNet data communications network and in partnership with the Nevada Seismological Laboratory (NSL) Science Network and ALERTWildfire regional fire camera system.

Daskaloo and his interdisciplinary team of engineers and environmental scientists will create a new robust technology platform for sensor registration, data communication, and data visualization and analysis.

The entire system will then be tested on the new Nevada Edge-to-Edge Weather Platform, or NevWx, that will be developed by the project. Edge-to-edge refers to the continuum of data collection, from information gathering to data processing and dissemination to the public.

“The goal of this project is to create a system that makes it easier for anyone to participate in weather monitoring and access information,” said Stephanie McAfee, assistant professor of geography and climatologist at Nevada State, one of the project’s principal investigators.

The Edge to Edge project is in its early stages, but team members expect the data to be public by the end of 2023.

Teamwork

The Edge-to-Edge project, funded by a $589,234 National Science Foundation grant, began in August 2022 and will run until July 2025. With Dascaloo as principal investigator and McAfee as co-lead investigator, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Fred Harris and Principal Research Engineer Scotty Strachan led the project as co-lead.

The team also works with stakeholders including the Reno Weather Forecasting Office of the National Weather Service; Nevada Department of Water Resources; University College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR); and the Desert Research Institute (DRI). These stakeholders will provide the team with feedback from science and the community.

The road ahead

Wildfire, heatwave, and drought hazards are major community challenges in the American West, and this new project, which aims to build a robust infrastructure for deploying open-access sensors and data processing, can help communities manage these hazards in locally appropriate ways. The Edge-to-Edge project aligns with one of the College of Engineering’s core competencies: developing and designing equitable public infrastructure to mitigate cascading local, regional, and global hazards, including wildfires, water problems, and earthquakes.

The team has now proposed installing sensors in three main areas: one around the trail of the Kaldor Fire, which destroyed 221,835 acres in the Eldorado National Forest in 2021; one in and around Incline Village; and a site along the Mount Rose Highway. McAfee said the team will be applying for sensor installation permits this winter and next spring and plans to install an experimental sensor network next summer.

In the meantime, the team will work on the network, security design, and software for NevWx, as well as fine-tune user needs for the online interface.

In the long term, Daskaloo says the goal of the Edge to Edge project is to create transformative, real-time, crowd-based environmental data services.

“This will involve citizens and various organizations in the process of collecting and using scientific data,” Daskalu said.

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