March 2017

Flood Modelling Sprint Workshop

This workshop was the first major event organised by Gordon Blair’s Senior Fellowship project in conjunction with JBA Trust. The focus of the workshop was to understand how the use of digital technologies can enhance flood modelling, and help inform better decision making.

The workshop brought together experts in flood risk modelling and data; and the purpose was to gain a better understanding of the industry drivers and technology needing flood risk modelling. The workshop was spread over two days at Castle Green Hotel in Kendal.


Day 1: Understanding the different perspectives

The first day was devoted to understanding the different perspectives brought to the table and how we could all work together to define a new approach to flood modelling and risk management. Details of these different perspectives are presented as follows:

Rob Lamb (JBA Trust): Talked about a data-centric approach to risk management, seeking a common underlying data architecture to capture data around past and future flood events as the basis of a new approach to risk analytics.

Jim Hall (Oxford University): Described his experiences of a nested architecture for risk management encompassing impact assessment, evaluation of options an uncertainty analysis.

Keith Beven (Lancaster University): Presented his vision of models of everywhere, emphasising the potential of models as part of a learning process driven by rich data about place.

Hayley Bowman (Environment Agency): Presented an EA perspective on strategic drivers for an integrated and cyclical approach to flood and coastal risk management, building on a library of likelihood scenarios and a desire to utilise local data as much as possible.

Fellowship Team: The team talked about prospective underlying technologies having a significant impact on flood modelling and risk assessment. This entailed highlighting the potential of bringing together multiple sources of data, emphasizing the need to employ new techniques to make sense of the highly heterogeneous and often unstructured corpus of data. Various perspectives were shown as to how to manipulate and analyse data, among which were use of data science methods to understand rich environmental data; use of cloud technologies to store and process data; and use of semantic technologies to enrich data to bring meaning to the data and to enable integration of multiple data sources.


Day 2: Developing storyboards

The second day aimed at producing a set of storyboards, which drew on the highlights of Day 1 in terms of needs of the end user and technological possibilities. The storyboards reflected our understanding of the problem domain that was discussed, and how we can contribute towards tackling the challenges this entails.

The workshop was well received by all the participants, and was a starting point to enable a cross-disciplinary engagement with different stakeholders in order to tackle flood risk analysis and modelling.


Authors: Vatsala Nundloll and Ross Towe