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Environment Agency plans for Flood Forecasting System



Contract with CGI IT UK lays ground for new system to become operational by next winter

The Environment Agency has begun work on setting up the Future Flood Forecasting System as a major element of its efforts in flood incident response.

It has signed a deal – valued at £5 million in the original tender notice – with the UK arm of Canadian technology and business process service company CGI to act as lead contractor, providing services including hosting, modelling software and disaster recovery.

The system will use data from the Met Office and Flood Forecasting Centre and be aimed at improving the quality and lead time of forecasting, giving the public authorities responsible for the flood risk management and utilities providers the chance to take more effective action to minimise the damage.

It is scheduled to become operational before next winter.

Craig Woolhouse, deputy director of flood incident management at the Environment Agency, said: “We are absolutely committed to increasing the timeliness, accuracy and usefulness of our flood forecasts in order to improve our response to flooding, and the Future Flood Forecasting System will play a key role. 

“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.”

Raising productivity

A spokesperson for the agency told UKAuthority the new system should improve the productivity of its forecasters by reducing the need for manual intervention in the process.

The anticipated improvements over the existing system include the ability to overlay more sets of data over the map based visualisation function – a key feature in raising the quality of forecasting – and to run multiple flood risk models to focus on individual communities.

It will also use a scalable cloud platform to increase its capacity when floods occur. The spokesperson said this should also make it more resilient, easily configurable and help to future proof the system.

The move comes a few months after the Environment Agency signed a £4.6 million deal with Fujitsu to further develop its flood warning system, which sends messages to the public and emergency services through phone, email and text, and updates warnings on GOV.UK. The two systems will be designed to work together as part of the flood incident management service.

Image from Manhattan Resarch Inc, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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