to three years. Purdue is working on the ability to reprogram the nodes wirelessly.

Additionally algorithms help optimize CSOnet's functions. "One allows communication using mesh network technology; another algorithm is responsible for utilizing sensor information to determine the optimal set points for the valves that control flows; yet another is responsible for energy management," Montestruque said.

The mesh network technology lets neighboring nodes communicate using many paths, thus bypassing obstacles.

The composite fiberglass manhole cover used to house the antenna and sensor adds to CSOnet's sturdiness by enabling radio signals to propagate easily from inside the sewer system. Another advantage of the retrofitted manhole cover is its easy installation.

There's already been interest in South Bend's CSOnet, including from places as far as India, Lemmon said. Gilot predicts interest will increase after the control phase ends and CSOnet can display its full value.

"There's a big potential here for this to have significant impact that goes beyond the horizon of academics," Lemmon said.

Jessica Hughes  |  Contributing Writer

Jessica Hughes is a regular contributor to Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines.