NTT Docomo, NTT Communications, and NTT Comware have begun a trial of an artificial intelligence (AI) system designed to monitor water levels in rivers and reservoirs. The system is now available for testing to companies and local governments across the nation, with a projected commercial release in March 2024.
The new system replaces traditional physical water gauges with AI technology and virtual gauges, which offer real-time images and time-series data of water levels on a screen. If the water surpasses a certain level, the system will automatically alert authorities.
To operate, the system utilizes cameras and specialized equipment positioned near a body of water to capture video. A virtual gauge is overlaid on the footage, and an AI video-recognition algorithm determines the water level in real time. By using multiple virtual gauges, the system can deliver improved accuracy.
Officials responsible for monitoring rivers and reservoirs can assess water levels and adjust AI settings via a management screen hosted in the cloud. The system can also stream live footage to local residents to keep them informed and alert.
Two key technologies have been integrated into the system. The first is the video analytics platform Edgematrix by NTT Communications, which processes large amounts of video data in an Edge AI Box (edge computer), enabling rapid video analysis, water-level determination, and streaming. The second is SmartMainTech, a water level-determining AI developed by NTT Docomo, part of its solutions for infrastructure maintenance, which analyzes video of rivers and reservoirs and links the results to the SmartMainTech cloud.
The system’s main features include the use of low-cost virtual gauges that can’t be damaged by floods and require less maintenance than physical gauges, real-time video monitoring of water level changes, batch video and data monitoring, and easy integration with video services.
During the trial, the three NTT group companies aim to confirm and optimize the system’s deployment and accuracy with the goal of a nationwide commercial launch as soon as possible.
This innovative system responds to the growing severity of river floods due to climate change, offering a cost-effective, low-maintenance solution to accurately gauge water levels and act quickly. Not only is it applicable to large water bodies, but the system is also practical for monitoring smaller rivers and reservoirs with the potential to cause disasters.