Flood Activated Warning System (FAWS) inventor James Koker of Nimbin with a prototype of the system that would alert drivers to water on the road and give real-time data on floodwaters to emergency services and councils.
Flood Activated Warning System (FAWS) inventor James Koker of Nimbin with a prototype of the system that would alert drivers to water on the road and give real-time data on floodwaters to emergency services and councils. Jay Cronan

Inventor proves to be deep thinker

REGULAR warnings from emergency services about the dangers of driving into floodwaters have failed to stop some motorists charging on regardless.

Despite warning to the contrary, some drivers see water on the road, guess how deep it is, and decide to drive through it - and can get into deadly difficulties as a result.

A Nimbin man has invented a device that will work in any car to detect when there is water ahead and how deep it is.

James Koker was born and bred in Nimbin. He has made his home there with his partner of 12 years and is studying engineering at Queensland University of Technology.

His flood activated warning system - FAWS - has the dual purpose of protecting motorists and alerting authorities about flooded roads. It senses water ahead and how deep it is, warning motorists to stop and transmitting the information to emergency services and councils.

"The old markers on the sides of roads don't do a good enough job," Mr Koker told The Northern Star.

"They are not always easy to see and motorists don't always pay attention to them.

"When there's water over a road, it can take authorities a while to put warning signs up, and longer to close the road."

Mr Koker has developed a FAWS prototype with working telemetry, using Telstra's 4G network. The device is to be assessed in Newcastle at a design studio that specialises in refining new products in prepa- ration for commercial manufacture.

He has support from Commercialisation Australia, an organisation that provides business mentors for people with great ideas, helps them set up a company, and teaches them about company structures and market analysis.

If the product is considered commercially viable, the organisation will provide grant money in the first stage to employ a chief executive officer, and eventually to help the inventor go into production.



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