Mobile sensor networks for optimal leak and backflow detection and localization in municipal water networks

Weijiao Gong, Mahima Agumbe Suresh, Lidia Smith, Avi Ostfeld, Radu Stoleru, Amin Rasekh, M. Katherine Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Leak and backflow detections are essential aspects of Water Distribution Systems (WDSs) monitoring and are commonly fulfilled using approaches that are based on static sensor networks and point measurements. Alternatively, we propose a mobile, wireless sensor network solution composed of mobile sensor nodes that travel freely inside the pipes with the water flow, collect and transmit measurements in near-realtime (called sensors) and static access points (called beacons). This study complements the tremendous progress in mobile sensor technology. We formulate the sensor and beacon optimal placement task as a Mixed Integer Nonlinear Programming (MINLP) problem to maximize localization accuracy with budget constraint. Given the high time complexity of MINLP formulation, we propose a disjoint scheme that follows the strategy of splitting the sensor and beacon placement problems and determining the respective number of sensors and beacons by exhaustive search in linear time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-321
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Backflow detection
  • Leak detection
  • Localization
  • Mobile wireless sensor network
  • Municipal water networks
  • Source identification
  • Water distribution systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling


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