GeoBusiness Show 2019

Smart Geospatial Innovations for Flood Risk Management

In Newsby Stephanie Brain

Smart geospatial innovations for flood risk management

Ambiental recently attended GEO Business 2019 and presented our innovative flood risk solutions solution during two seminar sessions. Held at the Business Design Centre in London the event is the largest geospatial show in the UK.

Global flood risk is predicted to increase significantly in the future. Climate change means that sea levels are rising and severe weather events are becoming more frequent. To combat this threat governments, insurers and private companies require ever more sophisticated tools to understand their exposure to flood risk and to support their response when floods occur.

Elena Puchs took part in a panel discussion at Geo Business Show 2019

Elena Puchs took part in a panel discussion at the Geo Business Show 2019.

Recent technological innovations in flood risk management
The intensification of flood risk, not just in the UK but internationally, will place increasing pressure on society to take steps which mitigate the risk of flooding. Risk intensification is expected to occur through land pressure of growing populations leading to increased urbanity. Coupled with this is the threat of climate change raising seal levels, and making severe rainfall events more frequent and more intense. Fortunately new technologies are becoming available from Ambiental and across the industry which enable people to better understand flood risk locations, providing advance warning of floods and helping to monitor flood disasters and model their impacts.

Increasingly accurate data and integrated systems are enabling city planners, asset managers, insurers and emergency responders to have better situational awareness. Improved spatial data and alerting systems utilise advances in computing technology such as High Performance Computing and Artificial Intelligence. The new emerging technologies also make use of newly available data from satellites and sensors. A dedicated seminar session looked at Flooding and Flood Risk. Elena Puch, Technical Analyst at Ambiental Risk Analytics referenced examples of innovative geospatial tools from across the flood industry and cited example case studies from our work.

After seven insightful presentations from across the flood industry Elena joined a top-flight panel of speakers to discuss the subject further. Chaired by David Rooke of the UK flood Partnership the line-up included David Wilkes, head of flood resilience at Arup; Dr Pippa Malmgren, co-founder of H Robotics and one of the Top 100 Women in Tech; Alexis Hannah, CEO IMGeospatial and one of the Top 11 Female Leaders in Geospatial Globally; Alison Matthews, Head of Geomatics Environment Agency and Prof Stuart Barr, Director of the Spatial Analytics and Modelling lab at Newcastle University.

The panel answered questions asked by the chair and from the assembled audience to tackle a range of subjects. Topics included where the future opportunities for the geospatial flood industry, the funding mechanisms for academic research into flooding, the opening out of flood related geospatial data and how to engage with non-expert communities. Elena raised an important point that whilst geospatial technology has a central role to play it is vital to stay connected with the communities on the ground so that solutions are not detached from the needs of the people at risk and make the most of opportunities to collect valuable data from their experiences. Further to this all experts agreed that there was a need for closer collaboration from all stakeholders across the industry.

Smart city dashboard systems for forecasting floods
The worldwide population living in cities is currently 3.8 billion people, and this figure is increasing rapidly. During a seminar session which focused on Smart Cities delegates heard examples of the rise of cities, such as how in India alone there are now 50 urban cities with more than 2 million people. The session demonstrated how geospatial information will play an ever more vital role in decision making by city managers, be it for traffic management, autonomous vehicles, development or flash flood prediction.

The session was introduced by Simon Navin from Ordnance Survey who argued that a holistic approach is necessary to bring together dispersed data such as that from real-time sensor telemetry, IoT devices and big data. Case studies from around the world were used to illustrate the session. Paul Drury, Product Manager at Ambiental Risk Analytics demonstrated our work to develop smart dashboard systems for consuming flood information in order to carry out a range of disaster risk management activities.

Ambiental’s new system has been developed to enable city authorities to manage and visualise high resolution flood forecasting data. Sudden flash flooding can severely impact cities with little or no warning and our flood forecasting systems are designed to mitigate the impacts. Timely dissemination of accurate information is paramount to decision makers. Through the integration of multiple data sources, including real time sensor telemetry and big data, the flood data delivery system provides improved, actionable intelligence to government stakeholders.

Using a full catchment modelling it is possible to predict flood events hours in advance. This is achieved in the UK through continuously processing Met Office rainfall forecast data feeds. Ambiental FloodWatch software simulates the entire hydrological system to calculate flows and then hydraulically models flood evolution. Water movement through the subsurface, including drains, soils and bedrock is dynamically analysed.

The Ambiental Smart City System system was developed to give advanced warning of floods in Greater London, pioneering the dynamic analysis of flood impacts to report risk to people, property and infrastructure. Key project stakeholders include Transport for London and the Greater London Authority. The solution was built through a Space for Smarter Government Programme project, which also explored the value of big data, specifically social media and mobile app transmissions, to inform incident management.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was able to deliver improvements by providing ordered reports of flooding, serving as model validation and supporting actionable intelligence workflows. The Smart City System dashboard system was also developed to track land-use alterations, specifically monitoring changes in green space, and the system build concept was designed to provide the flexibility to integrate and analyse a variety of complimentary data streams.

For more information on Ambiental’s innovative technologies you can access our White Paper here. Further information on the UK Smart City Dashboard project can be found in our news blog here. An article on our system deployment in Malaysia is also viewable here in the latest edition of GeoConnexion International Magazine. If you would like to obtain copies of the slides presented or if you have any other questions around our products and services then do contact us.

The Greater London FloodWatch® Smart City Dashboard system from Ambiental.

The Greater London FloodWatch® Smart City Dashboard system from Ambiental.