This project was selected through an SSGP competition run using Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), supported by Innovate UK.
The aim of this project was to provide the Environment Agency with reliable and accurate operational flood mapping in order to improve operational flood water extent and depth mapping during flooding incidents, specifically in relation to:
This proof of concept project successfully demonstrated the potential for an operational system by implementing satellite remote sensing algorithms from recent scientific research to improve the accuracy of floodwater delineation, and provided a simple interface to produce the results.
The project implemented four approaches and developed an ENVI extension to allow them to be run without specialist expertise:
TerraSAR-X: © DLR e.V. 2014, Distribution Airbus DS Geo GmbH, and Environment Agency flood outlines Copyright Environment Agency (2016)
The project developed a potential flood mapping product for end-users such as the Environment Agency, as well as secondary stakeholders such as the insurance industry who were also interested.
It was estimated that an operational solution could be developed for around £120,000 and there are two end-user scenarios:
As an automated web-based system, the key capability required by the user would be access to the system and some limited training in its usage.
The overall impact is that it provides a cost-effective, fast and accurate flood map that is easily disseminated to organisations without the need for specialist knowledge.
Specific benefits include:
The project concludes that this can become a commercial product, but there are a number of developments required for this to happen. The development of Sentinel-1 as the main SAR dataset e.g. a non-flood archive that is ready to be used is needed.
Combining SAR data with optical and altimetry data, plus new algorithms, to enhance the estimation coverage and accuracy in urban areas is also required, as well as optimising the flood map production e.g. processing speed and conversion to vector layer.