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

Case Study: University of Lincoln – Location-aware emergency evacuation support for coastal flooding

General Information

  • Provider: University of Lincoln
  • Technology utilised: Satellite Navigation
  • Thematic area: Local Authorities and Devolved Administrations Natural Hazards
  • End user(s): Lincolnshire County Council; Lincolnshire’s Resilience Forum
  • Website: www.lincoln.ac.uk


  • 2016

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

The operational user Lincolnshire County Council (LCC), and its association with the wider Lincolnshire’s Resilience Forum (LRF), identified a need for a technological solution to support timely flood evacuation and efficiencies for optimal deployment of supporting resources. The economic and social benefits of such a system in place for coastal communities would produce a positive impact, and empowerment to aid self-evacuation.

The project developed a functional cloud and a mobile-based prototype solution was identified and developed to meet the needs of LCC and LRF. The proposed solution supports evacuation of the public and provides on-the-ground intelligence of issues in at-risk areas.

The satellite prototype met the needs identified by operational-user LCC and the wider LRF involving coastal communities. The proposed solution is part of flood notification decision process where the operational user makes informed decision based on weather projections. If the decision is made to inform coastal communities of a flood alert, the solution can instantly send, via push notifications, contextual information including:

  • Textual alert information
  • Evacuation route map based on current location

Lessons Learned

The project team has gained knowledge in transferring evacuation route ‘pathway’ to a responsive, portable cloud and mobile based system. Other local authorities and public sector emergency planning teams could also benefit from knowledge sharing.

A central repository of open, digital evacuation could be made available to national public sector operational users.

Costs and Benefits

Potential cost for operational readiness is ~£280k with development time of 12 months.

Potential positive impact on operational user with enhanced operational efficiencies during a flood evacuation event includes:

  • Expected savings in resource deployment during a flood event to mitigate the economic and social impact of flooding
  • Timely evacuation of people providing early warning to support protecting property, environment and infrastructure
  • 2013 flooding in Boston, Lincolnshire caused an estimated £8.1m damage
  • Timely evacuation and early warning before such events could help reduce flood damage; even a modest reduction is significant.

Next Steps

Further developments in the next phase of the project include:

  • New functionality to support reliable, large-scale cloud deployment and operational readiness over longer term
  • National rollout and engagement with other local authorities and key governmental departments to support the project moving forward, such as DEFRA Flood Emergencies & Recovery and Cabinet Office NRI teams
  • Expanding the demonstrable use-case. Apart from flooding, the application is easily adaptable to other emergency scenarios with an identified need for timely evacuation routes in the mass movement of people.