Vendor to Watch: Green Stream Technologies
If constant news coverage made you suspect that we are suffering through more flooding events than normal, you are correct. The Mississippi River flooding last year was the worst since the “Great Flood” of 1927. Enter Green Stream Technologies, which has developed IoT water level monitors that provide more and earlier flood warnings.
Founded in March 2017 in Norfolk, Va., by Jim Gray and Karen Lindquist, Green Stream is an environmental technologies firm. Using self-designed monitors, the company collects local flood data so authorities can make better predictions and therefore better decisions on how to help residents prepare or escape, potentially saving property and lives. Currently, there are four full-time and three part-time employees and a Help Wanted sign in the window.
“We have about 160 or so sensors out in the field,” says Lindquist, the company’s co-founder and chief operating officer. “Public works and emergency management departments are our customers, and we have installations in Virginia as well as North and South Carolina.”
She is clear that they can’t stop the flooding. “We provide data to help communities adapt to the flooding they have.” Emergency management teams need real-time situational awareness, so they can move people out of harm’s way. Water disasters ruined over one million cars in 2017 alone (latest report from the insurance industry), and flooded roads from thunderstorms can knock out hundreds of cars.
Gray, co-founder and CEO, adds, “There’s been a 10x increase in flood events in the last 80 to 100 years. We’re seeing floods in strange places, and the eastern half of the country is getting lots more flooding than decades ago.” In Norfolk, there were a handful of events in the 1920s but 50 in 2016. Totals aren't available for later years.
Green Stream Flood Sensors are low-cost, low-footprint, rugged devices that measure water levels using ultrasonic technology. They can be positioned over any body of water, or even dry land that’s flood-prone. Some use batteries and some use solar power.
Networking can be tricky, admits Lindquist. “Even in North Carolina, we don’t always have good cell coverage.” Green Stream relies on Senet and its LoRaWAN network. Some locations require a gateway between the devices and a Wi-Fi or cellular network. Devices can communicate as far as 22 kilometers line of sight from sensor to gateway. If satellite connectivity costs continue to come down, Green Stream will reconsider that networking option. Devices report every six minutes. Customers see information on their account at GreenStream.io, often with a smartphone app.
Green Stream joined the RIoT network and Accelerator program early on. In fact, the company won the RIoT Second Accelerator Pitch Contest in April 2019. To take advantage of the IoT community RIoT has helped develop, Green Stream is moving to Raleigh, N.C.
“We loved Norfolk,” says Lindquist, “but we looked to find the best location to run a tech company. North Carolina came out on top with access to suppliers, people, support companies, and affordability.” Working with the RIoT program provided another strong reason to relocate to Raleigh.
Although Green Stream received a small grant from an MIT challenge early on, they self-funded initially and now rely on sales revenues. Lindquist and Gray are meeting with other funding providers. The possibility for growth is nearly unlimited, according to Lindquist. “This is a big wide country, with 3.5 million miles of rivers and streams.”
Plans for new features include rain gauges, measuring groundwater saturation, and other environmental sensing. As every measurement location will require an IoT sensor, power source, and network connection, they have plenty of work ahead.