As cities grow, floods become more frequent because urban infrastructure cannot accommodate the drainage needs of land that is paved. And as more and more tall buildings are erected, flood risks become harder to manage. Keeping effective distribution of heavy rainfall running effectively will pose a bigger challenge for local municipalities.
As Malaysia has a long history of flooding, every year, a community in some part of the country is devastated by catastrophic flooding.
While the job of a road curb is simply to manage road traffic and pedestrians effectively, in the future, the humble invention could become an agent for flood control.
'Aifaa Balqis Kamarul Zaman, 24, a post graduate student in civil engineering at UTP, saw the ubiquity of road curbs as more than just a safety measure.
'Aifaa, who designed a promising technology for flood control using road curbs says, “It's a humble innovation. I started studying about porous roads and after noticing a lot of water pooling by the roadside after heavy rainfall, it occurred to me, why don't we replace the materials so that water can pass through."
Significantly, the technology holds great potential to improve storm water and urban draining management systems in Malaysia. In light of this, the design has since won a gold award at the 30th International Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition (ITEX) 2019 held at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and, a special award by Japan Intellectual Property Association (JIPA).
In addition, the IP has also won a Scientex 2019 Award in The Best Industrial Design category. By design, the pervious concrete curb, or 'Curbvious' is a permeable structure. It allows water infiltration to help reduce water pooling that usually results in a flood in the case of a heavy rainfall.
“Like all functional things, it's very simple," says 'Aifaa. She notes that pervious street pavement that can absorb water in the U.S provided her an insight prior to designing Curbvious. But unlike the pervious road in the U.S, we don't have to restructure the design. Unfortunately, we do not have the expertise to embed the technology here against a high capital investment needed to carry out the project."
“To push any innovation out, we need to factor in a Malaysian perspective. In Malaysia, we love simplicity and low costs. Similarly, for Curbvious, we don't have to change a lot. We just need to replace existing curbs at flood prone areas," she explains of the innovation's viability.
Next, 'Aifaa has high hopes that Curbvious can thwart flood. She says, “There are millions of road curbs in Malaysia. If every one of them becomes malleable, capable of distributing water more effectively from pooling, the result will be a smarter city that is more resistant to flood."
While the basic design of the curb has not changed appreciably, according to 'Aifaa, the concrete strength of the curb is still the same. Rated at 20 MPa, the IP has been copyrighted after a string of infiltration performance tests.
'Aifaa says, “The technology is not only scalable, but it's also significantly easier and faster to scale than any other solutions. You could adapt and scale the technology for practically any road going system."
'Aifaa says she's happy that she's benefitted from UTP's active learning. “UTP is one of the leading research universities in Malaysia. Here, we get the opportunity to lead our ideas."
Indeed, this is another prime example of UTP's profound career connected learning and industry collaboration. From the work we do, we foster long-term relationships with our global social-impact partners to prepare our students, people and researchers as global citizens.
As a leading university in engineering, science and technology, our graduates are driven to exceed their professional objectives and contribute towards overcoming capability deficit across all sectors and industries.
Published on 22 September 2020