Bureau of Reclamation & Freelancer.com Announce "Counting Every Drop Challenge"

Aug. 24, 2022
The challenge aims to discover new and improved ground-based precipitation measurement devices

Freelancer.com announced a new innovation challenge with the Bureau of Reclamation and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

This challenge is in partnership with GEONOR and titled the "Counting Every Drop Challenge," according to Freelancer.com.

The challenge aims to discover new and improved ground-based precipitation measurement devices, which must meet criteria including:

  • Reliability;
  • Accuracy;
  • Operation and maintenance requirements;
  • The ability to operate in remote locations during extreme weather events/conditions; And
  • The ideal solution will not require fluids including antifreeze to operate.

According to Freelancer.com, "the goal of the challenge is to obtain more accurate and reliable precipitation measurements to inform water management decisions, including forecasting water supplies, monitoring water-year precipitation, controlling floods, and planning for irrigation needs."

"Water resources managers rely on ground-based precipitation measurements to monitor basin conditions and support streamflow, water supply, and flood forecasts," states the website for the Challenge. "These forecasts, in turn, inform water management decisions ranging from water allocation to flood control to environmental restoration. Despite the critical importance of precipitation gauges for water resources management, current precipitation gauges are subject to several challenges and limitations related to operation and maintenance requirements and data accuracy and reliability."

The challenge has a prize pool of US$300,000 awarded to successful contestants over two phases, reports Freelancer.com. 

Only one contestant whose final prototype meets all the requirements will be eligible for a $100,000 prize. Additional prizes will be awarded to innovative designs and features, however.

“The Counting Every Drop Challenge is the perfect opportunity for anyone with skills in engineering, design, water measurement, or anything related to water management,” said Matt Barrie, Chief Executive at Freelancer.com. “We’re looking forward to seeing new, novel approaches that will improve precipitation measurement devices used in remote locations.”

Phase 1 of the challenge asks competitors to submit a white paper describing their proposed precipitation measuring device and how it tackles the challenge. Submissions will be judged on the challenge requirements and their ability to complete a prototype that will be ready to be installed in the field in Phase 2.

Phase 2 of the challenge entails shipping completed prototypes to the NRCS to be installed in the field for at least 8 months.

A preliminary review for Competitors to share their progress and a pre-shipping review to demonstrate the assembly, installation, and operation of the devices will occur before field testing, reports Freelancer.com. Then, the devices deployed to the field will be co-located with an existing device for comparison. These devices must also use a 12 V DC power source and outputting data compatible with dataloggers.

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Cristina Tuser