Plans for a new digital solution to give early flood warnings  

WY FLIP has successfully bid for funding from the Local Digital Fund

Plans are underway to create a network of sensors across West Yorkshire to give people earlier warnings about the risk of surface water flooding.

Board membersfromWest Yorkshire Flood Innovation Programme have successfully bid for £97,000 from the Discovery Phase of round six of the Local Digital Fund to test whether using smart technology for such a system would be viable. Led by Wakefield Council, this is one of 16 digital projects to be awarded funding.

Officers from Wakefield, Kirklees and Leeds councils worked with environmental technical solutions company Andel, supported by Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP), to submit the bid. They will now scope the project, carry out further assessment of the Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) and pilot the sensors.

The sensors will help operational flood risk managers within highways, emergency planning and digital programme teams, in local authorities and the Environment Agency, to gain real time knowledge of where surface water flooding is likely to happen. This will allow them to take preventative action sooner, such as activating flood defences, road closures and doing maintenance work including clearing drains.

The plan is to roll the sensors out across the region to improve its resilience to flooding and then to introduce them further afield.

Surface water flooding is a growing problem across West Yorkshire, disrupting residents and businesses, and causing substantial damage to properties and infrastructure

Cllr Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Highways, said: “Currently our response to surface water flooding tends to be reactive rather than proactive and there is no early warning system in place.

“This network of sensors would transmit real-time surface water levels to a central hub, creating an early warning system which would allow flood teams to direct resources where they are most needed, in advance of flooding, and communicate with communities at risk giving them more time to prepare and put plans in place to reduce any impact.”

Councillor Jane Scullion, Deputy Leader of Calderdale Council and WY FLIP ambassador, said: “Flooding causes devastation and is a problem shared across boundaries, both within West Yorkshire and throughout the whole country. This system would improve efficiency and coordination of response to flooding within and between local authorities.

“By improving and sharing flood related data we can enable businesses and residents in areas downstream to be better prepared as they will have earlier warnings of potential risks.”

This project will focus on surface water level monitoring using new bollard sensors and rainfall, soil moisture and gully sensors. The networks are a low energy and low-frequency allowing the transfer of data from remote, battery powered sensors to user friendly dashboards. It will enable information related to flooding to be shared across boundaries, between local authorities and partners.

A series of workshops will now be run by iCASP, on behalf of the West Yorkshire Flood Innovation Programme, to help partners share technical expertise and practical experiences of dealing with flooding.


Note for editors

The aim of the Local Digital Fund is to make local government services safer, resilient, and cost effective. The aim of these projects is to help create the next generation of local public services, where technology is an enabler rather than a barrier to service improvements, and services are user-centred. Blog about the Digital Fund announcement:

  •  West Yorkshire Flood Innovation Programme (WY FLIP) is a collaborative, innovative programme which works at catchment level and across administrative boundaries to reduce the impact of flooding and climate change in the region.
  • This ambitious programme will explore new ways of working including bringing together people who do not normally work together such as representatives from the private sector, community groups, charities and volunteers with a keen interest in flood resilience.
  • It comprises of five lead Local Flood Authorities, the Environment Agency and West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The programme also has support from local stakeholders including academic partners, community based groups, Third Sector organisations and Yorkshire Water. Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP) will also provide scientific lead, ensuring the latest research is embedded into new techniques employed across the region and provide an evaluation framework.

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