American Society of Civil Engineers

Integrating Event Detection System Operating Characteristics into Sensor Placement Optimization

by David B. Hart, (Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, NM USA. E-mail:, William E. Hart, (Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, NM USA. E-mail:, Sean McKenna, (Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, NM USA. E-mail:, Regan Murray, (US Enviromental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH USA. E-mail:, and Cynthia A. Phillips, (Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM USA. E-mail:
Section: Water Quality, pp. 367-378, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Water Distribution Systems Analysis 2010
Abstract: We consider the problem of placing sensors in a municipal water network when we can choose both the location of sensors and the sensitivity and specificity of the contamination warning system. Sensor stations in a municipal water distribution network continuously send sensor output information to a centralized computing facility, and event detection systems at the control center determine when to signal an anomaly worthy of response. Although most sensor placement research has assumed perfect anomaly detection, signal analysis software has parameters that control the tradeoff between false alarms and false negatives. We describe a nonlinear sensor placement formulation, which we heuristically optimize with a linear approximation that can be solved as a mixed-integer linear program. We report the results of initial experiments on a real network and discuss tradeoffs between early detection of contamination incidents, and control of false alarms.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Probe instruments
Water quality
Water distribution systems