A Total Eclipse of the Data

Aug 24, 2017   |   Adam J. Hecktman

Last year I wrote a post about City Digital’s Smart Green Infrastructure Monitoring Project. Designed to study urban flooding, the SGIM pilot focuses on studying the effectiveness of various investments in green infrastructure to use natural systems to process and manage rainwater. Green infrastructure in the form of vegetation, soils, alternatives to pavement, etc. were augmented with sensors to measure their effectiveness versus traditional gray infrastructure solutions (e.g. pipes, pumps, ditches, and detention ponds).

Comparing the various green and grey elements meant placing a variety of sensors both in and above the ground.  We can take measurements and figure out what works where and under what conditions  Which brings me to the point of this short post. You may have heard that we had a total eclipse on August 21st (anyone hear that?). The effects of the eclipse impacted the data that we received from the above ground sensors at the bioswale installation at UILABS!

As you would expect, when the moon blots out the sun, you get a temporary decrease in air temperature.  The temperature decrease resulting from the eclipse was captured in the data stream for Goose Island bioswale monitoring pilot. You can see more in the screenshot from the bioswale (courtesy of OptiRTIC):

According to Marcus Quigley, CEO of OptiRTC, this was not unique to Chicago, as they saw the same behavior in their installations in other places across the country. For example, below from just outside Portland, OR (which saw 99.2% of totality). The ambient air temperature there dropped by about 5 degrees Fahrenheit:

Chalk one in the column of data telling a story.

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Adam J. Hecktman
Adam J. Hecktman

You may recognize Adam. He’s a regular on TV, you can hear him on the radio, he’s penned numerous articles and is the co-founder of the Chicago City Data Users Group. But some of Adam’s most important work is done behind the scenes in his role as Microsoft’s Director of Technology and Civic Engagement for Chicago. Tech giants, universities and government leaders turn to Adam for guidance on all matters technology, and he happily obliges, helping Chicago overcome challenges and capitalizing on new, exciting opportunities.