BeiDou at the ready, Beijing braces for torrential rains expected on Wed

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/12 1:59:00

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Some 260,000 smart sewer covers lie ready as Beijing, the Chinese capital city with a population of over 20 million, anticipates a torrential rainstorm on Wednesday. 

Different from before, the covers are now connected to China's homegrown BeiDou Navigation System (BDS) and will automatically report their positions with a precision level to the centimeter to urban drainage workers, a clear sign of how China's homegrown core technology can rise up to the challenges of extreme climate and help mitigate losses, industry insider told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Although the Chinese capital is located in a semi-arid region, torrential storms during summer can occasionally cause flash floods in the city, and sometimes the losses can be heavy. 

In July 2012, a flash flood claimed 79 lives and caused an economic loss of 10 billion yuan ($1.44 billion).

By nightfall Tuesday, the Chinese capital was bracing for what meteorologists predict could be huge torrential rains set to begin early Wednesday morning.

Beijing's city government advised non-essential workers to stay home on Wednesday. The city's tourism authority issued a circular on Tuesday night calling off tourist activities in mountainous areas, riversides and other high-risk zones in anticipation for the torrential rain. Eleven parks were closed and over 540 flights have been canceled.

However, Wang Yanyan, deputy general secretary of the Global Navigation Satellite System and Location-Based Services Association of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday that drainage work will be greatly enhanced when the storms strike, thanks to a municipal initiative that started in 2015 to connect some 260,000 sewer covers within the urban districts of Beijing with the BDS. 

Wang said the system of smart sewer covers will greatly reduce the time the municipal drainage task force reaches a blocked sluice during a flash flood, thereby reducing economic losses and saving lives. 

"Under one overpass in Beijing, there can be more than 200 sewer covers, but only a small number of them are related to drainage. How to quickly locate and reach the correct sewer covers and remove trash and other items blocking the sluice is of great significance in the battle against flash floods," Wang said. 

Without BDS, drainage task force has to wade through floodwaters, feel around for the sewer cover with their feet greatly reducing their efficiency at unclogging sluices, Wang explained.

"This time with the help of BDS, with location precision down to the centimeter, the problem will be alleviated," said Wang. 

On July 31, China announced that its homegrown BeiDou-3 Navigation Satellite System is officially providing global services, a move that greatly boosted national morale given the domestic positioning system's ability to offer major services to global users, rivaling other global positioning services such the US' GPS, Russia's GLONASS and the EU's Galileo.


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