Accurate and reliable streamflow data are critical to water resources planning, management, and research. Despite the importance of streamflow data, the existing network of continuous streamflow monitoring stations (also referred to as stream gages) in the United States has declined over the past several decades. The primary driver of this decline is the cost of installing, operating, and maintaining stream gages.
The Bureau of Reclamation and US Geological Survey are seeking new and innovative methods to significantly reduce the cost of continuous streamflow monitoring compared to current methods.
The total prize purse for this Challenge is $75,000.
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The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and US Geological Survey (USGS) are seeking new and innovative methods to significantly reduce the cost of continuous streamflow monitoring compared to current methods.
Water resources planning, management, and research rely extensively on accurate and reliable streamflow data. Long-term streamflow records, for example, are critical to the design of water supply and flood control projects, as well as infrastructure in and adjacent to stream channels. Similarly, water managers rely on real-time streamflow data to support water supply and flood control operations, including forecast and early warning systems for droughts and floods. Long-term and real-time streamflow data also support a broad range of water resources and environmental research.
Despite the importance of streamflow data, the existing network of continuous streamflow monitoring stations (also referred to as stream gages) in the United States has generally declined over the past several decades. The number of stream gages operated by the US Geological Survey peaked in the late 1960s and declined nearly 20% by the late 1990s. The primary driver of this decline is the cost of installing, operating, and maintaining stream gages. Between 2000 and 2009, additional funding was made available to reactivate approximately half of the deactivated gages; however, the cost of installing, operating, and maintaining stream gages remains a significant challenge to Federal, Tribal, State, and local water agencies.
This prize competition seeks new methods or technologies to significantly reduce the equipment and/or labor costs of continuous streamflow monitoring. Methods must be applicable to continuous monitoring of the volumetric flow rate of water in open channels, including natural channels (e.g., streams and rivers) and engineered channels (e.g., aqueducts, canals, and drainage channels). Methods should be applicable across wide range of flow rates, channel sizes, and channel geometries, and the accuracy and reliability of methods should be comparable or better than current methods.
A brief video describing this Challenge can be found here.
CHALLENGE STAGES AND PRIZES
This Challenge consists of 3 main stages:
Stage 1 – Theoretical (this Challenge)
Stage 1 (this Challenge) is a theoretical competition requiring a white paper submission. Submissions should include a detailed description of the proposed method for continuous streamflow monitoring, including a thorough description of the physical principles underlying the proposed method, all equipment and operation and maintenance (O&M) procedures required to implement the method, and estimated costs (see details below regarding how to characterize estimated costs). Estimated costs should include all equipment and labor costs associated with initial installation and long-term O&M of the proposed method at a given location, excluding site-dependent costs such as travel and program-dependent costs such as administrative costs and data management and delivery costs.
Stage 2 – Reduction to Practice, Lab Testing (envisioned future challenge)
Stage 2 is envisioned as a reduction-to-practice competition requiring development of a prototype system. Prototype systems will be tested in a controlled environment such as a hydraulics laboratory, canal, regulated stream channel (e.g., stream channel below a dam), or other location where flow and measurement conditions can be well regulated. Prototype systems will be tested for a brief period over a limited range of flow and environmental conditions. Testing will focus on verifying that the prototype system functions as intended and provides accurate measurements under controlled conditions.
Stage 3 – Reduction to Practice, Field Testing (envisioned future challenge)
Stage 3 is envisioned as a reduction-to-practice competition requiring development of a prototype system. Prototype systems will be tested in a natural environment such as an existing stream gaging site on a natural stream or river. Prototype systems will be tested for an extended period over wider range of flow and environmental conditions. Testing will focus on verifying that the prototype system functions as intended and provides accurate and reliable measurements over a wider range of conditions.
The design and launch of Stages 2 and 3 will be contingent on the outcome of Stages 1 and 2, respectively, and on availability of funds. The design of Stages 2 and 3, if they proceed, will be shaped based on the outcomes of Stages 1 and 2, respectively.
Stage 1 will award up to 5 prizes from a total prize purse of $75,000. Stage 2 envisions a total prize purse of $150,000 and Stage 3 envisions a total prize purse of $300,000.
This posting only launches the Stage 1 competition. Participation in Stage 1 is not required to be eligible to participate in Stage 2 or Stage 3. The envisioned framework and prizes for Stages 2 and 3 are provided for informational purposes only; Stages 2 and 3 will be announced and launched under separate announcements.
Submissions to this Challenge (Stage 1) must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on April 8, 2019
Late submissions will not be considered.
After the Challenge submission deadline, a Judging Panel will evaluate the submissions and decide which Solvers are selected for an award in Stage 1 of this Challenge. The Judging Panel may be composed of Federal and/or Non-Federal scientists, engineers, and other technical experts, including subject matter experts from the listed collaborators for this Challenge. All persons or entities that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of the submissions. Decisions by the Seeker cannot be contested.
IMPORTANT ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
To receive an award in Stage 1 of this Challenge, the Solvers will not have to transfer their exclusive IP rights to the Seeker. Instead, Solvers will grant to the Seeker a non-exclusive license to practice their solutions. The Solver will not receive an Award if Solver cannot provide Seeker with the non-exclusive license to the Solution IP on the terms set forth in the Challenge-Specific Agreement. Solvers who have transferred their IP rights in their solution to another party, or otherwise entered into any commercial exclusive arrangement with another for the exploitation of their IP rights in their solution prior to the end of the Challenge shall not be eligible for a Challenge award. Please note that any proposal submitted will not be treated as confidential information. Accordingly, Solvers should take whatever steps they deem necessary to protect their proprietary rights in their solutions prior to submitting their written proposal for consideration in the Challenge (e.g. filing provisional or full patent applications on the solution described in the written proposal submitted prior to submission). See the Challenge-Specific Agreement
This Challenge is being conducted by the Seeker under the authority of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (15 U.S. Code § 3719) as amended by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2017, which states that cash prize purse awards for this prize competition may only be given to an individual that is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, or an entity that is incorporated in and whose primary place of business is in the United States, subject to verification by the Seeker before cash prize purses are awarded.
Cash prize purse payments: Payments will be paid in full to the eligible registered individual, entity, or team selected as a winner.
Registering as a team: Teams must register to compete by having the Team Leader form a Team Project Room. The Team Leader must be a U.S. citizen, permanent U.S. resident, or representative of a U.S. entity eligible to receive a cash prize. In the case of a team registration, the cash prize purse can be split and paid directly to eligible team members as directed by the registered eligible team leader. The Seeker will not make payment to team members that are not eligible under 15 USC 3719 to receive a cash prize. Team Project Room requests must be made no later than 1 week prior to the Challenge deadline. Once registered, click on ‘Form a Team’ at the top of the Challenge page for further instructions.
Participation by those not eligible for cash prizes: Submissions can be entertained from all Solvers regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, or U.S. entities. Meritorious submissions from non-U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and entities are eligible to receive non-cash prize awards, if any, and will also be recognized in publications issued by the Seeker announcing the results of the competition, such as press releases. Full eligibility details and other restrictions are detailed in the Challenge-Specific Agreement
Participation in future stages: Participation in the Stage 1 theoretical competition (this challenge) is not required to be eligible to participate in Stage 2 or Stage 3 reduction-to-practice competitions (envisioned future challenges).
About The Seeker: The Bureau of Reclamation is an agency of the United States Federal Government with a mission to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public (www.usbr.gov).
About the Collaborators: The Bureau of Reclamation is collaborating on this prize competition with the US Geological Survey (USGS) to design and judge this competition. USGS is an agency of the federal government with a mission to provide reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life. (www.usgs.gov)
What is a Theoretical-Licensing Challenge?
An InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge builds upon an idea but is not yet a proof of concept. A solution to a Theoretical Challenge will solidify the Solver's concept with detailed descriptions, specifications and requirements necessary to bringing a good idea closer to becoming an actual product or service.
This Challenge is a Theoretical-Licensing Challenge, meaning that the Seeker is requesting non-exclusive rights to use the winning solution. By contrast, Theoretical-IP Transfer means that Solvers must relinquish all rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) for which they are awarded. For these forms of a Theoretical Challenge, Solvers that do not win retain the rights to their solution after the evaluation period is complete. The Seeker retains no rights to any IP not awarded.