The Environment Agency has announced plans to roll out a new flood forecasting system intended to improve both the accuracy and timeliness of warnings, as well as making it easier to share alerts with the right people and organisations.
The system will be developed by services company CGI in a £5m, three-year contract.
"It will bring together regional systems into a single national system to make it quicker and easier to monitor forecasts and provide our experts with more time to analyse the data and communicate with our teams on the ground," said Craig Woolhouse, deputy director of flood incident management at the Environment Agency.
The Future Flood Forecasting System would help improve "the timeliness, accuracy and usefulness of our flood forecasts in order to improve our response to flooding", he added, enabling the Environment Agency to produce and share flood forecasts with greater efficiency and effectiveness.
The Future Flood Forecasting System will be based on CGI's Digital Insight Platform, and will run on Microsoft's Azure Cloud. The purpose of running the system in the cloud is that it will enable the Environment Agency to scale up quickly to meet times of peak data processing demand during extreme weather and flood conditions.
Wrapped up in the new flood forecasting system will be a number of other technologies, including map-based data visualisation from Mapcite.
This is intended to help users to understand forecast outputs and assess the likely impacts on high-risk areas and assets such as hospitals, sub-stations and schools.
Mapcite, a small British technology company, has been part-funded by CGI as part of CGI's SME Accelerate programme, which CGI claims helps innovative SMB technology companies to access business opportunities across CGI's government and commercial contracts, while CGI gets access to technologies that it can implement that might not otherwise make it on the company's radar.
The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology will provide hydrology and forecast model experience to combine the potential impact of hydrological events with the mapping tool.
"This solution will digitally transform the way floods are forecasted across the country," claimed Elwyn Jones, vice president of UK central government and justice at CGI.
CGI has also worked recently with UK Sport to help the body deploy analytics to better assign funding to individual sports, in line with their chances of Olympics medal success.
It has also been involved with the development of a system for the Radioactive Incident Monitoring Network (RIMNET), which forecasts the potential impact of nuclear incidents, and also includes the European Space Agency among its customers.
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