Trent Flood Technology

Nottinghamshire County Council is on a mission to ensure and increase the resilience of our most at-risk communities from flood risk whilst also decreasing our carbon impact by utilising advancements in technology.

The River Trent examined by drones.
Mavic 2 Enterprise Drone used for inspections and surveys.
One of our pilot sites for installation of telemetry and CCTV.

Our story

by Nottinghamshire County Council

As the climate shifts, communities are becoming at greater risk of flooding and are suffering repeat events. We are seeing a greater number of flooding events on a yearly basis and these are causing resources to be stretched, causing more and more properties to be damaged by water and a greater need to be present in more areas during storms.

The role of local authorities during flood events has a range of tasks and roles, from collecting data, providing advice, guidance, and support, assisting with the vulnerable and undertaking maintenance and clearance on key flood risk assets across the authority. The increase in flooding has seen a greater need to ensure our resources are focussed at our most vulnerable and our most at-risk communities, however, this is a challenge of which has had to be overcome using advancements in technology.

We are planning to install telemetry and CCTV monitoring at key assets across our region in which we see repeat flooding. These communities are not eligible for funding and have on several occasions had to re-build and repair their homes. During an event typically officers would have to attend site to assess and investigate whether any positive remedial work would be needed to reinforce the resilience of the network. By using CCTV, we plan to receive live images of these sites to feed directly to officers so where resources are not needed, they can be appropriately allocated to other key sites. This allows us to ensure as many of our at-risk communities at possible can be assessed and inspected and where possible remedial work undertaken. This also has the added benefit of decreasing the amount of routine inspection needed on the ground which has a direct improvement to our reduction of carbon emissions throughout the lifetime of these assets.

Our project not only hopes to increase the resilience of our communities and of the environment but to also decrease our authorities carbon footprint. By using new technology such as telemetry and drones we can decrease the amount of third-party input needed for tasks across both our authority and our neighbouring authorities. Our drones have the potential with certain tasks to both greatly reduce our carbon emissions and reduce the number of individuals needed for a task therefore reducing the number of vehicles needed on the road. Although ensuring our communities are more resilient to avoid the loss of homes, livelihoods, and lives, we also want to ensure we are reducing our impact on the climate at every possible level.

Our advice

A great deal of research was undertaken by discussions with leading industry experts on both Telemetry and Drones to fully understand where the technology currently was and their full potential of utilisation.
When working with technology it is always important to consider any possible limitations with software, hardware, and users. We looked at varying case studies of people using drones for varying different tasks and jobs, which although were not directly linked to our proposed use, gave us an useful insight into where we may foresee future problems and find a way to work around these.

Whilst there is a general understanding on the multitude of benefits using new technology such as drones, there is still an overall hesitancy to use them because of the envisaged difficulties that come alongside, such as risk assessments, data protection and GDPR issues and insurance and risk. Working together with all partners is incredibly important at every step of the way to understand how to mitigate and work through these.

We have been inspired to undertake this project by our communities who suffer risk on a more frequent basis. A typical project to assist with flood risk has historically looked at simply mitigating against the future risk but did not propose many benefits which would seek to lower a carbon footprint to help alleviate the potential impact of climate change. As we move into projects which seek to meet these aims, we wanted ours to feed directly into this. By utilising technology and lowering our carbon footprint, we are seeking to make our communities more resilient to the risk of flooding, but also helping to decrease the impact of climate change moving forward.

In terms of what we would have done differently, I would have liked to have set up a steering group early on in the process with individuals and colleagues from different teams and sectors within the locality to understand both the intended use and the associated risks that come from these. A group which met on a regular basis would have allowed for a more seamless transition through the process, and whilst we have been able to do so, a steering group would have streamlined and sped up the process slightly.

Our metrics

Reduction in the number of site visits required.
Environmental impact of colleagues being on site.
Amount of waste going to landfill following flood events.
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