Hagit Messer

IEEE Medal for Environmental and Safety Technologies

Sponsored by Toyota Motor Corporation

For contributions to sensing of the environment using wireless communication networks

In 2006, Hagit Messer had a revolutionary idea: to use existing measurements in cellular communications networks to extract weather information. Her work capitalized, in a very original way, on the ubiquitous presence of cellular towers to provide new data about weather and precipitation without the need to build and place additional sensors. Her work overcame the huge limitation of local gauges and radar, which don’t have the coverage nor the density required for reliable measurement of near-ground precipitation everywhere on earth. Her idea, which was first demonstrated in a report in Science, showed that it is possible to incorporate the already installed wireless communication links for opportunistic sensing of the environment. This idea received vast attention, both in and outside academia. Worldwide research teams started to develop algorithms and experiments, while state-weather services implemented this new capability into their forecasting methods. Moreover, in 2009, it was demonstrated that the technology can be used for early flood warning. This application is immediately related to saving lives, and sequentially, Messer and her team were awarded the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Best Inventor Award for “Predicting floods using wireless communication networks.” Messer’s innovation contributed to the establishment of an entirely new field of opportunistic sensing of the environment and specifically of opportunistic integrated sensing and communication (ISAC). A true game changer, the technology is poised to impact the lives of people from all walks of life: from subsistence farmers in Africa and India to residents of Brazil and New Zealand who are flooded out of their homes.
An IEEE Life Fellow, Messer is a Professor (Emerita) at the School of Electrical Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.

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