The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

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

Sensors installed along China’s South-to-North Water Diversion Project track water quality, watch for intruders, and detect structural damage

4 min read
A concrete aqueduct in Mancheng, Hebei Province, China.
Photo: Construction and Administration Bureau of South-to-North Water Diversion Middle Route Project

As an engineering feat, China’s massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project is a stunner. Three artificial canals, each more than 1,000 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 1,400-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.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
Horizontal
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres
LightBlue

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

Keep Reading ↓Show less