Now, in the UK we’re used to a bit of rain.
Whatever time of year it might be, we’re actually famous for our weather.
And whilst normally the worst disruption is getting wet if you’ve forgotten your umbrella, with climate change causing increasing extremes of weather – rain and flooding are on the increase and this is raising some tricky challenges for engineers and planners.
As always though, there’s lots of cool new technology that’s helping us to meet these challenges – to help protect lives, homes and businesses and reduce disruption and damage.
What is the current solution?
Now, when water goes down a drain, it flows into the sewer system and is carried away to treatment plants.
As we know, when there’s too much rain, sewers can overflow.
The traditional solution has been to build more sewers but this is expensive and uses up resources and generates emissions.
And that’s not great when we’re working towards a carbon neutral future.
But engineers have developed a solution CENTAUR!Embed from Getty Images
What is CENTAUR?
Engineers working with the University of Sheffield have come up with an award winning way to use AI – that’s artificial intelligence – to help manage the flow.
Called CENTAUR, it’s a simple network of smart sensors, connected wirelessly, that utilises untapped sewer network capacity through opening and closing gates to control the flows, based on an intelligent algorithm which analyses local water level data.
That means is that it works out which parts of the sewer network are overfull and which have capacity, and diverts the flow the right way. Pretty clever, especially as it doesn’t involve building more sewers. It works with the ones we already have.Embed from Getty Images
Flooding across the globe
Of course, flooding isn’t just a problem in the UK – it’s a global issue with thousands of people and animals killed by flooding each year, especially in developing countries which can’t always afford flood defence technology. But there’s a solution that’s literally out of this world!
NASA’s Earth Applied Sciences Disasters program area has partnered with several leading scientific institutions to develop a flood detection tool called “Model of Models”.Embed from Getty Images
What is Model of Models?
This tool combines data from open-source hydrological models with Earth observing satellite data to generate global flood risk severity updates several times a day.
Satellite imaging and analysis provides predictions about when and where there’s an increased flood risk to help those countries prepare – wherever they are on the planet.Embed from Getty Images
What about closer to home?
And there’s another type of flood defence that’s a little closer to home – and that’s rain gardens.
Gardens are brilliant for soaking up rain and flood water.
The trend for paving over our gardens and using artificial grass is resulting in more surface water being around our homes.
And that’s something you really don’t want – especially if you’re in a flood zone.Embed from Getty Images
What are rain gardens?
Rain gardens have a depression that helps rainwater from a roof, patio, pavement, road surface or driveway to slowly soak into the ground instead of flowing into the nearest waterway or drain.
If the gardens are planted with plants that enjoy wet conditions, that can help support biodiversity and habitats.
Its something anyone with a garden can create at home.
And there’s a growing movement to create rain gardens in public spaces in the UK.
You can see a great example at the London Wetland Centre.
Of course, we can all agree that it’s important to tackle the source of the problem – climate change, and these new technologies and ways of thinking are really going to help us to be prepared and minimise disruption and damage.Embed from Getty Images
What about Waterways?
There is a particularly exciting project that’s underway in Glasgow.
To the north of the city, there’s an area that was so affected by flooding that it wasn’t practical to use the land for anything.
And with a housing shortage, we need all the suitable land we can get.
Fairfield Control Systems has been a part of a team developing the first “Smart Canal” in Europe.
Pairing historic canals and 21st century innovative technology, it’s set to solve the flooding problem and make the land available for development.
And what a good idea, using the infrastructure we have as opposed to building new things.Embed from Getty Images Add a comment