How technology can prepare you for flooding
The Environment Agency has created a long-term flood risk map for England and a flood map for planning where you can find out whether your property has a low, medium or high risk of flooding from rivers, the sea or from surface water and whether your property is in flood zones 1, 2 or 3.
Telemetry provides a great, live insight into the way that watercourses react to heavy and sustained downpours and allows it to be closely monitored. Telemetry systems may be water level sensors, cameras or warning systems which may be placed on, in or adjacent to a watercourse, culvert or drain. The Environment Agency and Gaugemap measure the current water level and sea levels across England via Environment Agency monitoring stations and the data is readily available for the public. For each river monitoring station, there is a graph available that shows the threshold level which, if exceeded, means flooding may be possible at that location. Furthermore, communities can invest in their own community telemetry systems which enables them to monitor the river 24/7 and respond efficiently when necessary or to report any blockages. Telemetry systems can act as a trigger to put a flood plan into action.
Flood alarms can be placed at a point inside or outside of your property where water can reach before it can cause any damage, for example, a garden wall, the side of an outbuilding or your porch. As soon as water hits the sensor, an electronic alert is sent to a control box located inside of your property. From this, the box sounds an audible alarm, automatically dials your selected telephone numbers and delivers a pre-recorded flood warning message. As well as your own telephone number, you could also add friends, neighbours or a registered key holder in case you are away in the event of a potential flood. The pre-recorded message can act as a trigger to initiate your flood plan and begin installing your temporary property flood resilience measures.
The use of social media can be beneficial for raising awareness about flooding and preparedness. It enables quick communication to large groups of people at one time, for example, via emails, WhatsApp messages, Facebook and Twitter. Flood Action Groups (FlAGs) can set up Facebook and Twitter pages to update the community before, during and after flood events and raise awareness of how to be more prepared; this enables as many members of the community as possible to receive information regularly. FlAGs can also use Facebook and Twitter groups to identify and discuss issues which contribute towards the areas flood risk, such as problems with nearby drains and watercourse responsibility issues. Following specific hashtags and accounts such as the @MetOffice and the @EnvAgency on Twitter provide regular updates about weather forecasts, weather warnings and a current flood situation if one is occurring.
Environment Agency Flood alert and warning service
The Environment Agency has a free of charge flood warning service that enables people in flood warning areas to receive flood alerts and warnings by telephone, text and email. This gives you more time to prepare for a flood. Flood alerts and warnings are a great way to keep up to date with the flood risk and the river and sea conditions in your area, allowing you to be pre-warned of any risks towards your property. More information can be found here.
MOBILE PHONES AND THE USE OF APPS
With mobile phones rapidly advancing since the 1970’s and some evolving into “smart phones”, those who own one may frequently use apps. As well as popular social media apps, many others can provide useful information and updates tailored specifically for the weather and emergencies, such as a flood event. Apps such as the Met Office provide weather forecasts and information on any weather warnings that have been issued and what to expect during those conditions.
The British Red Cross has a free Emergency App which helps the user deal with emergencies so that they are fully aware of what to do should one occur. It allows users to:
- Set up emergency alerts for your area. This includes severe weather warnings.
- Add the location of family and friends. You’ll be able to let them know if a warning is issued for their area or when an emergency strikes, and check they’re safe.
In addition to alerts, the app also features:
- A personal alarm and strobe light to attract attention in emergencies.
- A location finder, so you’ll always know exactly where you are.
- An ‘I’m safe’ notification that can be sent to your friends and family.
- Clear and practical advice on what to do in a variety of emergency situations.
Cumbria Community Messaging (CCM)
In addition, Cumbria Community Messaging (CCM) is managed by the Cumbria neighbourhood Watch Association (CNWA) and offers people and communities across Cumbria the means to receive information from Agencies in the county. This can include flooding updates and is a great example of how technological advances can help deliver messages and flooding updates to the whole community.
Finally, websites such as The Flood Hub (which the Flood Team here at Newground have been heavily involved in designing, developing and producing content), provide a one stop shop for all things flood related for individuals, businesses and communities across the North West. It provides quick and easy access to an abundance of information and resources to help anybody interested in flooding to become more flood resilient. There is also an interactive map that can be explored to find details of community groups, flood schemes and events happening in your area.
As discussed above, technology is very useful for preparing individuals for flooding and becoming more aware of the various risks. As technology further develops as well as the threat of climate change, it is likely that more and more services will be created to help people become more aware of their flood risk and what they can do to protect themselves and their property.
Source: Environment Agency, British Red Cross, The Flood Hub, Floodguards.com, Vision Link