Information is the Key

Sponsor/grant agency:

Iowa DOT LogoIHSEMD logoIowa Silver Jackets logo


Witold Krajewski, Anton Kruger, Dan Ceynar, Radek Goska, and James Niemeier


Amount of leveraged funding


Project Period




Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT),  Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department (IHSEMD), and Iowa Silver Jackets

Services provided by IFC:

The IFC developed and maintains a statewide network of stream-stage sensors designed to measure stream height and transmit data automatically every 15 minutes to the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS), where one can view the sensor locations and data in real time.

“I use gauges as one of my agency’s tools to prepare for and predict rising water levels, which in turn causes a list of various actions to take place,” says Larry Hurst, director of Mills County Homeland  Security & Emergency Management Agency. “[I] would actually like several more units installed in my county.”

Project Description:

The IFC maintains a network of over 250 stream-stage sensors across the state. Support for sensor deployment has come from IDNR, IDOT, IHSEMD and research projects at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.

With support from the state of Iowa, the IFC has been able to maintain and expand the stream sensor network to provide resources for smaller communities. The information available on IFIS helps small communities respond to and prepare for flood events more quickly, allowing

them to protect people and infrastructure. Locations for new sensors are selected in consultation with local governments (emergency management, engineers), watershed management authorities, state agencies, and the National Weather Service.

The sensors were originally developed as a student project to design an affordable, yet effective way to measure stream and river heights. The solar-powered sensors are attached to the sides of bridges. The sensors emit a sonar signal to measure the distance from the water surface to the sensor. The data are transmitted via cell modem to IFIS, where the information is publicly available.