Long awaited technology to see, measure, and verify your water level data, and to alert you when something goes wrong.
GaugeCam uses images from webcams to automatically measure water level and stage in open channels. A revolution in hydrology and hydrometry? Maybe.
For sure, now you can take a look at your data, even in the form of time-lapse movies. So no more doubt about why your data drifted: you can now visually verify every data point as if you were there. Your field maintenance will be dramatically reduced and the reliability and quality of your data will be largely increased.
GaugeCam is still in beta; therefore, the data visible from our live cameras is for demonstration and educational purposes only, and should not be considered definitive.
If you are interested in testing GaugeCam at your site, please contact us. Commercial availability is scheduled for 2012.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does GaugeCam Work?
GaugeCam uses machine vision technology to detect in an image a straight line formed by water level against a flat background.
A standard webcam is focused on a scene where the water level is visible. A backdrop with real-world coordinate benchmarks (also known as “fiducials”) is placed in the scene. These fiducials are used to calculate where the line falls in real-world coordinates. In a field setting, the webcam is ruggedized, equipped with infrared lighting for nighttime measurement, and uses an integrated cellular communication system to automatically send pictures to the GaugeCam server, hosted in a secure data center.
The frequency of image upload is configurable. Depending on the data communication speed and power available at the field location, images may be uploaded as often as every five minutes. In addition, the images may be saved to a local SD card as a backup.
When I Use GaugeCam, What Kind Data Do I Get?
As images are sent from the webcam to the GaugeCam server, the server automatically measures the water level and stores this information to a secure database, along with with the original image and its timestamp.
When you sign up for GaugeCam, a custom URL (link) is provided to you for viewing this data. You can use a desktop or mobile web browser to navigate to this URL and view hydrographs of measured water levels and the corresponding images. The web site also provides the capability to view data over a custom time period and generate time-lapse movies from uploaded images.
The hydrograph data can be downloaded as a text (.txt) or comma-separated values (.csv) file. Images and time-lapse movies may also be downloaded.
What Other Services Are Available?
An alarm service is available. For example, upstream a sensitive area, when water levels reach a user-defined threshold and/or rate of increase, the GaugeCam system can send an SMS, MMS, or email message to specified users or officials. MMS and e-mail messages can include image attachments, allowing immediate review. In addition, alerted users can visit the GaugeCam web site to review the hydrographs, images, and time-lapse movies in greater detail to determine whether an action is required.
Other services may include system monitoring — making sure the installation is correctly calibrated and is continuing to function properly.
How Accurate Is GaugeCam?
A preliminary laboratory study (Gilmore et al., in revision) has shown that in common conditions, measurements uncertainties over a 1.2 m vertical range were ±3 mm. Many factors may affect these numbers in the field:
- Resolution of the background fiducials in the image. Resolution depends on the type of lens and the distance from the camera to the background.
- Camera stability. The GaugeCam software has an embedded capability to detect and to correct for camera ‘bumping’, but clearly our initial field tests show that the more stable the camera, the better the results.
- Angle and lens distortion:
1. Ideally, the camera would be installed perpendicular to the background. However, in practice, the camera is always set up above water and thus looks down at the water level. The steeper the angle, the higher the uncertainties will be. Measurement uncertainty over a very large vertical range has not been determined; this is currently under test
2. As you approach the edges of the image, barrel distortion effects may be seen. Such distortion can be avoided by installing the camera further away from the background and using a lens with longer focal length for sufficient resolution.
3. In summary, the good news is that the effects of camera angle and lens distortion can be mitigated by careful camera positioning and lens selection.
How Long Is My Data Stored?
As long as your GaugeCam account remains active, water level measurements are stored indefinitely.
By default, images less than one year old are available online. After that, they may be removed to reclaim storage. As long as the images remain online, they may be downloaded for permanent archival. You may also purchase an account upgrade to extend the one year image history to a longer period of time.
Is My Data Secure?
Yes. By default, the data from GaugeCam is only available to you. You may also grant permission to allow additional user accounts or the general public to view your data.
Will GaugeCam Work At My Location?
GaugeCam can be deployed anywhere in the world that has cellular coverage or connectivity to the Internet. Though the system can be used in the lab (e.g. as a reference bench for calibrating other water level sensors), its primary use is in the field.
At locations where a power source is not available, a battery and solar panels are necessary. For these locations, adequate sunlight levels are also required.
Does GaugeCam Work At Night?
Yes. Multiple commercial webcams that have integrated infrared ring lights have been tested and approved for nighttime use with GaugeCam .
What Equipment Needs To Be Installed?
A GaugeCam installation includes:
- A webcam - You may purchase the camera from GaugeCam or install one of your own.
- A stable mounting system for the webcam
- A flat background marked with fiducials - The dimensions and physical construction of the background will depend on the specifics of your location; the GaugeCam team will work with you to provide a suitable set of fiducials.
Pricing has not been determined. Our goal is to be competitive with existing systems that use telemetry to transfer sensor data on a real-time basis.