Benefit-Cost Analysis of Low-Cost Floor Inundation Sensors

Posted on by Stephen Gee

The demand for inexpensive and reliable warning systems has increased in recent years as a result of the increase in the number and severity of flood disasters. A new generation of low-cost sensors for flood monitoring and warning is being developed by the federal government and private sectors, in some cases collaboratively. We perform a benefit-cost analysis of this new product category, (i.e., low-cost flood inundation sensors), which can readily be deployed in a wireless or internet of things network. The use of these sensors can improve the coverage and lengthen the lead time of flood warning systems. The production costs of this new technology are only a fraction of those of
existing sensors with similar capability and reliability, and operating costs are modest. Benefits depend on such factors as the ability to improve lead times of warnings to reduce property damage, deaths, and injuries from floods as well as the extent of adoption of the new sensors. Our analysis indicates a benefit–cost ratio of 1.4 to 1. However, our results are based on several assumptions. Hence, we
have undertaken extensive sensitivity analyses to determine that our results are robust.

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