By Mikael Mulugeta
A new Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS) service will change how Iowans receive important flooding alerts.
The automated alert feature, accessible from the front page of IFIS, allows users to receive IFIS alerts via text message, phone call, or social media when sensors record certain flood levels. Users can select an IFIS sensor of interest, define the criteria for an alert, and then choose a corresponding action.
For example, users can select a sensor in Cedar Rapids and set 15 feet as the minimum stage height to trigger an alert; and have IFIS text parents or other family members a customized message alerting them of the flood warning.
IFIS integration with the IFTTT (If This Then That) website, an automated workflow system, makes this feature possible. Users can set up alerts by following instructions on the IFIS page, setting their conditions and corresponding actions, and then logging on to IFTTT through Google or Facebook accounts to complete the sign up. Find instructions on setting up the automated feature, here.
In addition to smartphones, tablets, and desktops, IFIS can also send alerts to smart devices, such as GE home appliances.
Currently, users can only set alerts to exact values, such as 20 feet of flooding or higher. Moving forward, Iowa Flood Center researchers plan to add categorical flood levels, so alerts will activate if sensors detect “major” or “minor” flooding.