Coastal Flooding & Solutions, Workshop Case Studies

South Carolina Coastal Communities Water Level Observation System

Location: Smartcoastline, South Carolina

Submitted By: Nicole Elko - South Carolina Beach Advocates, Executive Director

Project URLs:

Project Description

This user-inspired project has created a water level observing network to help coastal managers plan for, manage, and adapt to community flooding. Affordable water-level sensors wirelessly telemeter real-time, hyper-local data and tidal predictions to coastal managers’ cell phones through a user-friendly app. The project engages local managers to ensure the placement of the sensors, the data and prediction tools, and usability of the app fit the localized needs of six S.C. coastal communities. The project also fills significant spatial data gaps that will enhance federal tidal and flood modelling efforts.

Key Successes

One key to success has been the leveraging of technologic advancements and field testing of ~200 sensors, operational in five states. Dr. Brian Glazer’s laboratory at the University of Hawaii (UH) has completed multiple years of product innovation and infrastructure development funded by the National Science Foundation and Schmidt Marine Technology Partners. This collaboration has delivered economies of scale building a community water level observing network much faster and cheaper than if we started from scratch. With support from the UH Office of Innovation, Glazer launched Hohonu, Inc. to provide the sensors and reduce costs and technical barriers that inhibit communities from establishing monitoring stations.


In the future, we aim to help users conceptualize and quantify thresholds for emergency response to coastal flooding.

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