Improving Live Flood Alert & Incident Information for Urban Areas

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: School of Earth and Environment

Abstract

A significant current and future challenge for urban water management is the lack of readily available rainfall data of sufficient detail to support emergency response and investment planning. The availability of fine-scale rainfall and flood data will enable urban water authorities to adequately cope with peak rainfall and will help to prevent the severe pluvial flood damage that in the past decades has been associated with these events. Rainfall radars are the only measuring devices that provide space-time estimates of rainfall that can be used for this purpose. However, radar data suffer from significant errors due to the characteristics of the radar equipment and the radar site, and due to the characteristics of precipitation. Raingauges may be used to adjust the radar data to improve quantitative precipitation estimates as raingauges provide accurate point measurements of rainfall. Hence a combination of raingauge and radar data offers the prospect of improved data in urban areas, although techniques have only recently been developed to become sufficiently reliable to be applicable on the scale of urban areas. One such technique was developed in the CityRainNet Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project carried out by Hydro-Logic Ltd. and NCAS in the United Kingdom in the Dundee area during spring/summer 2011, and in the Yorkshire Coastal area (Filey, Flamborough and Bridlington) during spring/summer 2011. This work led to the development of a procedure for combining five minute radar and raingauge data in real-time. The project involved using data from the UK Met Office/Environment Agency C-band radar network. The previously published Probability Matching Method (PMM) (see for example Rosenfeld et al., 1993, 1994) was improved and tested. The PMM algorithm involves matching the unconditional probabilities of rainfall intensity obtained from raingauges and radar reflectivity producing an adjustment technique called the Radar Integrated Hybrid Adjustment Technique (RainHAT). However the deployment and use of raingauges in urban areas, particularly at elevations on poles up to 4.5m high is problematic due to siting difficulties and exposure problems. Hence the first part of the Project will involve finishing the development of a new weighing raingauge and assessing its performance when mounted on poles against more conventional surface tipping bucket raingauges. Secondly the RainHAT system being developed further by Isodaq for operational implementation will be tested. NCAS will provide advice on this work.

Planned Impact

Economic benefits for the SMEs inside the consortium - Increased sales of applications, services, software licences and rain-gauge network instrumentation; increased sales of customised web-site services; publication of papers on academic research in journals and conferences, extending UK and International research opportunities. The system would be marketed to the 12 WCs, 152 LLFAs, and 65 other UK flood authorities & similar in Ireland. Our initial analysis is that the UK market value is c.£9M over 5 years. The technology also supports the global drive towards Smart Cities where surface & waste-water management are key aspects. There are no current UK competitors & our estimate would be to achieve 80% market share from commercialising the prototype, in line with Isodaq current market share for flood warning systems in the UK (600 installations for >60 LLFAs). Shoothill (one of the project partners) have > 29,000 registered public users of the FloodAlert site (peak of 1.2 million hits on 15/02/14) and is also used by the BBC + 80 other online news channels. Shoothill's live Flood and Gauge Application Programming Interfaces (API) currently service 382 subscribers running apps, sites & other software applications. Exploitable outputs provided to clients either as licensed software or annual data bureau service include: Isodaq rain-gauge networks (RainNet) with new urban rainfall information service, including a merged gauge and adjusted NIMROD radar product; flood alert incident management service, integrating rainfall & flooding data & warnings with incident reporting & post-event analysis of impacts & storm/flood frequency probability; new web-site will present storm data in easily accessible map and graph formats enabling correlation with historic & live data reported at flooding hotspots. It is unlikely that any of the products will be patentable but the complexity of the rainfall measurement technology combined with flood alert knowledge is a protection from otential competitors, currently none. Routes to market will be via web/emarketing, social media, customer visits, webinars & workshops; professional meetings eg. UDG-CIWEM, WWEM & Sustainability Live exhibitions, international conferences & trade shows; international sales through Isodaq's network of distributors. NCAS research outputs will be published in accordance with the funding rules. Economic benefits (outside consortium) - Reduced cost of data acquisition for authorities; greater use & accessibility of data to third party developers; more rapid, targeted response to emergencies; more targeted proactive maintenance of drainage assets; savings to insurers; - all leading to better flood defence infrastructure investment decisions & ultimately reduced cost of flooding & pollution damages & post-event clean ups; Social benefits (outside consortium) - Reduction in flood risk arising through more informed planning & investment; increased public awareness of flood risks through hyper-local dissemination of flood information, potentially saving property & life; increased resilience of the urban environment through better interaction between authorities & the public at personal, community, county, national & international level; reduction in health issues & risks arising from flooding / pollution, eg disease & stress; Environmental benefits (inside & outside consortium) - Reduction in carbon emissions arising from fewer visits to low maintenance networks; better data will inform improved surface water management, planning and resilience for reducing environmental impact of floods and related pollution spills eg CSOs.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description There were 4 primary objectives addressing the lack of readily available rainfall and flood incident data of sufficient detail and timeliness to support emergency response and investment planning:
1. Improving accuracy and resolution of rainfall intensity data.
2. Merging locally collected and national real-time datasets into one information system.
3. Improving event information capture and dissemination during flooding incidents.
4. Providing a permanent and accessible database of historic events
All of the above was achieved.

All of the above were achieved.
Exploitation Route This was a prototyping project but demonstrated many benefits in the area of improving Live Storm Rainfall and Flood Alert Incident Information for Urban Areas. Final impacts based on what it has demonstrated are potentially very considerable in terms of public safety, flood warning and flood defence and optimisation of resources, as well as cost savings over existing instrumentation solutions.
Sectors Construction,Environment

 
Description Collaboration with Shoothill and Isodaq 
Organisation Isodaq Technology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Collaboration between the Project partners (NCAS, Shoothill and Isodaq) was essential. The consortium collaborated very closely with each other, but also with Water Companies, Consultancies, Data Providers and Lead Flood Authorities: Severn Trent Water, Wychavon Council, Yorkshire Water, City of Bradford Council, Calderdale Council, UK Met Office. The consortium partners will continue to work together. Several ideas to further improve the methodologies would involve work between Isodaq and NCAS, and promotion of the software will involve both Isodaq and Shoothill.
Collaborator Contribution These Stakeholders helped guide the processes through quarterly meetings, and many engaged directly in User Inferface reviews of the software. Equally important, they made provided and advised on locations for rain gauges and aided the processed of risk assessment and permissions.
Impact 1. Three new, high resolution hyper-local urban rain-gauge networks were set up based on novel prototype rain gauges (WPRG) for use in urban areas, and their accuracy demonstrated via academic studies. Methodologies for improving error rates of UK Met Office rainfall radar data were implemented into the RainHAT real-time software prototype and demonstrated to achieve much higher levels of accuracy. 2. Merging locally collected and national real-time datasets into one information system Publicly available Irish rain gauges and UK Met Office (MO) NIMROD radar data was incorporated with 3 local networks of rain gauges into functional prototypes (RainView DBi and Storm Alerts) and the potential for Environment Agency (EA) was also demonstrated. 3. Improving event information capture and dissemination during flooding incidents StormAlerts provides a user configurable data portal for alerts based on the same data, via a hyper-local map interface, with social media dissemination for First Responders and the public. 4. Providing a permanent and accessible database of historic events RainView DBi, combined closely with RainHAT, provides power users (such as Lead Local Flood Authorities and Water Companies) with long term analysis of field data and improved radar rainfall information, updated every 5 minutes. 5. In addition, our academic partners provided specialist input into the implementation of the RainHAT methodologies, and to provide reports on the accuracy of the new rain gauge (WPRG) and the implications of installing such devices at height, which had been little explored before.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration with Shoothill and Isodaq 
Organisation Shoothill Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Collaboration between the Project partners (NCAS, Shoothill and Isodaq) was essential. The consortium collaborated very closely with each other, but also with Water Companies, Consultancies, Data Providers and Lead Flood Authorities: Severn Trent Water, Wychavon Council, Yorkshire Water, City of Bradford Council, Calderdale Council, UK Met Office. The consortium partners will continue to work together. Several ideas to further improve the methodologies would involve work between Isodaq and NCAS, and promotion of the software will involve both Isodaq and Shoothill.
Collaborator Contribution These Stakeholders helped guide the processes through quarterly meetings, and many engaged directly in User Inferface reviews of the software. Equally important, they made provided and advised on locations for rain gauges and aided the processed of risk assessment and permissions.
Impact 1. Three new, high resolution hyper-local urban rain-gauge networks were set up based on novel prototype rain gauges (WPRG) for use in urban areas, and their accuracy demonstrated via academic studies. Methodologies for improving error rates of UK Met Office rainfall radar data were implemented into the RainHAT real-time software prototype and demonstrated to achieve much higher levels of accuracy. 2. Merging locally collected and national real-time datasets into one information system Publicly available Irish rain gauges and UK Met Office (MO) NIMROD radar data was incorporated with 3 local networks of rain gauges into functional prototypes (RainView DBi and Storm Alerts) and the potential for Environment Agency (EA) was also demonstrated. 3. Improving event information capture and dissemination during flooding incidents StormAlerts provides a user configurable data portal for alerts based on the same data, via a hyper-local map interface, with social media dissemination for First Responders and the public. 4. Providing a permanent and accessible database of historic events RainView DBi, combined closely with RainHAT, provides power users (such as Lead Local Flood Authorities and Water Companies) with long term analysis of field data and improved radar rainfall information, updated every 5 minutes. 5. In addition, our academic partners provided specialist input into the implementation of the RainHAT methodologies, and to provide reports on the accuracy of the new rain gauge (WPRG) and the implications of installing such devices at height, which had been little explored before.
Start Year 2015