PYRAMID: Platform for dYnamic, hyper-resolution, near-real time flood Risk AssessMent Integrating repurposed and novel Data sources

Existing operational flood forecasting and risk management tools do not model the critical causes of failure in our flood protection systems, and therefore may not capture localised but critical factors that influence larger-scale flood dynamics and thus the impacts of a flood event. Recent severe floods have been compounded by blockages from floating debris (such as cars and bins), limited maintenance of assets, and problems arising in the operation of flood defence schemes (e.g. gates damaged). There are also limitations to the granularity of our risk analysis, where the state-of- the-art is LiDAR-based hydrodynamic modelling with little consideration for features not visible from the air, porous surfaces, or subterranean infrastructure. Although a wealth of data is available (flood reports, drainage plans, asset management registers, knowledge of possible debris sources (e.g. car parks, forests), remote and in-situ sensing, citizen science, sub-property level factors identified using Artificial Intelligence (e.g. impermeable surfaces, micro-topography, door thresholds), and broader scale hydro-meteorological datasets, including the £2.7M Newcastle Urban Observatory), it is often disparate, fragmented, unstructured, in various formats, and of inconsistent quality. Extracting and integrating the incredibly valuable information from these sources and incorporating it into models to effectively predict and assess flood risks at (near-) real-time is a huge challenge.

PYRAMID will develop a digitally-enabled environment which benefits policymakers, businesses, communities and individuals. Our near-real-time flood forecasting and flood risk management platform will demonstrate a new methodology and tool for assessing, analysing, monitoring and forecasting the state of flood risk at higher spatial and temporal resolutions than previously seen. This will enable greater capacity to explain and engage with stakeholders around flood risk than previously possible and will be fine-tuned with our project partners. PYRAMID will lay the foundations for a ‘digital twin’ for flooding in a single city/catchment that is easily transferable to other UK locations.

PYRAMID is a collaboration between researchers from Newcastle University's School of Engineering, Loughborough University and the Urban Observatory.

Cover photo by Chris Gallagher on Unsplash

Updated Thursday 21 January 2021