Enabling the public sector to save money, innovate and make more effective policy decisions by using space technology and data

Case Study: Stevenson Astrosat – eXude – Urban Flood & Drainage Monitoring

General Information

  • Provider: Stevenson Astrosat
  • Technology utilised: Earth observation (EO)
  • Thematic area: Natural Hazards
  • End user(s): Central Government, Local Authorities and Devolved Administrations
  • Website: www.astrosat.biz


  • 2016

This project was selected through an SSGP competition run using Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), supported by Innovate UK.

Flooding is one of the most prevalent natural disasters both in the UK and internationally. There is potential for more effective use of space-based resources for monitoring and mitigation of flood events. The project aimed to address two flood monitoring needs:

  • Methods to allow for urban flood monitoring from space
  • Monitoring a flood over a large area and how it dissipates over time.

The project team developed knowledge and skills relating to Altimetry and Multi-polarisation Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and concluded that:

  • Altimeter satellites and re-tracking capabilities are not suitable for defined application
  • Multi-polarisation SAR does not provide a feasible solution; other flood applications could be improved with dual/quad-polarisation SAR.

The project looked at integration of satellite-derived data with other datasets to provide improved information on a flood event; LIDAR data was used to create volume and depth estimates from satellite-derived flood extents and addition of vector-based data, such as flood defences, was used to allow an expert eye to interpret their impact.


Lessons Learned

The project team gained greater understanding of the capabilities of SAR and Altimetry for this particular application. It was concluded that it is possible to get a greater level of information from the satellite data when integrated with other datasets.

Costs and Benefits

The potential cost for an operational satellite application was estimated to be around £150,000 per large scale flood event.

Impact on the user’s organisation and expected benefits include:

  • More effective flood management across a wide area
  • Support local authorities and non-departmental public bodies in data evaluation for decision making
  • Providing useful information to the public and related services such as insurance providers.

Next Steps

A future phase of the project will include:

  • Further engagement with end-user communities to prioritise future developments, both nationally and internationally
  • Automation and optimisation of processing
  • Integration into database-based user interface/dashboard
  • Potential further R&D into altimetry reprocessing algorithms and use of multi-polarisation SAR for improved delineations in saturated ground and variable conditions.