100,000 IoT Sensors Monitor a 1,400-Kilometer Canal in China

A concrete aqueduct in Mancheng, Hebei Province, China.


As an engineering feat, China’s massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project is a stunner. Three artificial canals, each more than 1000 kilometers long, are in various stages of completion and designed to reroute water from the country’s rainy south to its parched north.

The massive internet-of-things (IoT) network that has been quietly overseeing the middle route is impressive in its own right. More than 100,000 individual sensors stud the 1400-kilometer waterway, which connects the Danjiangkou reservoir to Beijing and Tianjin. For the last year, it’s been scanning the canal for structural damage, tracking water quality and flow rates, and watching for intruders, whether humans or animals.

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