Harris County, TX – The Harris County Engineering Department (HCED) has been awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a prototype flood warning system with the goal of improving transportation safety and resilience.
The DOT launched the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program in 2022 and received 392 applications nationwide. Harris County was one of the two applicants selected in Texas and among 59 projects selected for funding in 33 states.
“The Harris County Road Flood Warning System project focuses on the life-saving aspects of flood risk on roadways,” said Dr. Patrick Mandapaka, HCED director of community resilience and transportation planning. “The project will pilot innovative technologies to disseminate critical information during flooding events to enable the public to take safe alternate routes.”
The project includes network prototyping on some medium to high flood-risk corridors in unincorporated Harris County, including information dashboards and AI-powered analysis for data exchange among government agencies, advocacy groups and the public.
“The project proposes a completely integrated system that would include data access and exchange from the field sensors to the overall flood warning system and then extend to external systems such as public alert dashboards,” said Mandapaka.
The purpose of this SMART grant is to conduct “demonstration projects focused on advanced smart city or community technologies and systems in a variety of communities.” The SMART grant is divided in two stages: Planning and Prototyping (Stage 1) and Implementation (Stage 2). A maximum of $12 million could be awarded for Stage 2. Harris County and other funding recipients selected for Stage 1 will be eligible to apply for Stage 2 funding of $12 million upon successful completion of the Stage 1 project.