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Can flood telemetry help your community?

Newground have recently been working with a community that have installed their own community flood telemetry and they are already seeing the benefits!

Planning and preparing for flooding as a community is a good step in reducing the impact it can have. Making a plan is great, but knowing when to act on it is equally as important! Flood telemetry systems can monitor different types of watercourses and keep track of water levels to give you an idea of when flooding may happen.

It can help to identify a warning trigger – this could be when the watercourse reaches a certain level – which you can use in future flood events to give yourselves enough time to prepare for flooding and take action.

The Environment Agency operates a network of over 5,000 telemetry assets including coastal and river level sensors, cameras and rainfall gauges. They use this system to warn of potential flooding via the Agency’s free of charge Flood Warning Service. However, this service is not available to everyone who lives in a flood risk area which has resulted in some communities taking matters into their own hands and installing their own telemetry systems.

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How can your community help itself?

Community based telemetry can provide a warning trigger in areas that don’t receive flood warnings, as well as in flashy catchments or where monitoring rural flood risk is difficult. Advancements in technology and communications systems mean that equipment which used to be expensive can now be purchased by smaller communities more cheaply!

Community flood groups may form after a flood event with the aim of making the community more resilient to flooding and reducing the impact of it. For some groups, community flood telemetry systems can be a valuable way to monitor local flood risk and decide when to put their community flood plan in place.

Community flood telemetry…

  • is made bespoke to each community’s needs because flood risk sources can be very different in different areas!
  • installation is a joint effort between the system supplier, land and asset owners, risk management authorities (RMAs) and your community.
  • requires permits from RMAs, permissions from landowners to install equipment, and a survey of the site.
  • costs from around £3,000 upwards – but don’t forget, constituted flood groups may be able to get grant funding for their telemetry!


How does flood telemetry work?

Telemetry systems have three main functions; data capture, data processing, and a user interface. The handy user interface is what your community can use to receive flood warnings and observe data in the form of graphs and photos.

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They can be installed in a wide range of locations such as:

  • Rivers
  • Ordinary watercourses
  • Sewer networks
  • Drainage systems
  • Culverts

The ‘devices’ are strategically placed and often located on poles and bridges or even attached to structures in the watercourse itself. They can be solar powered or use battery units capable of lasting decades.

In the chosen watercourse, sensors and gauges are mainly used to capture water levels, flow rates and rainfall. They can also detect blockages and record a range of other factors including temperature and air pressure. Where a visual check is also required, camera systems can relay live images, day or night, of watercourses and flood risk assets such as trash screens, gauge boards and pumping stations. This makes it really easy for members of the community to get a realistic view of what is happening at that exact time!


What can you do with flood telemetry systems?

Flood groups, community members and RMAs can all monitor images and water levels in real-time either through log-in to an online web portal or via an app which can be installed on mobile devices, with warnings provided through SMS text, email and push notifications on smart phones.

System builds can range from a single water level sensor which triggers an LED road sign to warn passing motorists of flooded roads ahead, to more integrated systems comprising of sensors, gauges and cameras.

In addition to monitoring and warning, telemetry systems can also help your community to collect and record data of how the micro catchment reacts to rainfall, potentially helping to predict future localised flood events with greater accuracy.

If you think flood telemetry systems could benefit your community and would like to know more, further details of these systems and equipment can be found on the links below.


Click here to download our resource below from the Flood Hub website.


Sources: Vision-Link, Radio Data Networks

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