When it comes to flooding, time is critical to effectively protecting people, property and infrastructure from danger and damage. Early warning of floods could mean the difference between life and death.
Early warning of floods provides first responders such as the emergency services with the time they need in order to put in place migitation and protection measures, or to begin evacuation procedures. National and local authorities such as municipalities, county councils and water suppliers need both to warn residents about impending flood events and to despatch teams to implement flood mitigation plans.
The more notice that can be given, the more time these responders have to work and the more harm can be averted.
In order to forecast the risk of flooding with any degree of certainty, and sufficiently in advance of a flood event to provide adequate response time, it is necessary to monitor real-world environmental conditions as far upstream as is practicable. The best kinds of monitoring provide remote, persistent data gathering, with collection and transmission of data at short intervals in order to provide a near real-time picture of flood conditions.
Rainfall is a prime upstream indicator of potential flood risk, and monitoring systems that measure climatic factors such as this can provide insight into imminent flood events. However, rainfall alone does not take into account contributory factors such as ground water, river levels or (in some regions) snow melt.
As such, while meteorological measures might provide an indicator of probability of flooding, they may be insufficient on their own to provide accurate, location-specific flood warning and should therefore be factored into a more comprehensive monitoring network.
A good indicator of flood risk are the water levels in natural and man-made bodies of water such as rivers and sewers. These water levels represent a tangible, realistic measure of the volume of water that is being conveyed downstream, and can provide accurate signals as to likely flooding.
Monitoring watercourses like these upstream of homes, businesses and infrastructure provides a reliable measure of flood risk, and water level monitoring systems can form the core of an effective flood warning system.
Data gathered by monitoring systems may be used to power flood warning systems that can automatically deliver alerts and trigger warnings. These systems may be used to alert flood response teams, or to warn the public of danger.
If connected to a telemetry system, a remote data logger can be configured to transmit data once certain environmental conditions have been reached - a certain amount of rainfall, or a certain level of water - and that data can be used to trigger an automated alert. For example, a telemetry system might send an automated e-mail to a flood response team, or an SMS message with a CCTV image.
Automated alerts such as these reduce delays in communication and information distribution, improving flood response times and giving response teams greater opportunity to mitigate and protect against flooding.
Improved public awareness of flooding and flood risk contributes to better public safety, and some local authorities are using hydrometric and climate data to power information and warning systems aimed at the public.
In the UK, for example, Devon County Council operates automated flood warning signs to warn motorists of hazardous conditions on roads and highways, while Singapore's Public Utilities Board (PUB) has set up an interactive online map of water level stations and CCTVs to inform the public of current flood risks in the city.
Hydro International Smart Monitoring systems provide local authorities and monitoring bodies with reliable data to power flood warning systems and automated alerts.
An accurate, reliable data logger ideally suited to ongoing remote capture of water level data in near real time.
Learn more: Hydro-Logic® Weather Logger
A robust, remote weather monitoring system that provides near real-time information about rainfall and other climatic conditions.
Learn more: Hydro-Logic® Level Logger
A telemetry system that enables automatic wireless receipt of data from remote sensors, triggering automated alerts and providing short-term data storage and visualisation.
Learn more: Hydro-Logic® Timeview