Software spots leaks in flood defences

Future global flooding could be better managed using a computer modelling system developed by researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid’s (UPM) School of Computing.

The tool, known as the LHIDRAMANNING, has been designed to integrate information about the rate at which flood water flows overland with aerial images from Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors.

Currently, flood-risk maps are created using numerical models of swell waves that simulate potential scenarios in river basins. However, these models have a number of flaws, including poor satellite resolution and an inability to model small land features.

Mark Todd, coastal flood management advisor for the Environment Agency, said: ’Some parts of Europe still rely on satellite imagery to build flood-risk models. But with these you can’t really pick up the certain details, such as crop types in the land.

’The system developed at UPM will identify flood risks more quickly and effectively than satellite imagery, particularly in areas where there are dramatic changes in land over small spaces.’ The technology uses large-format photogrammetic cameras that generate a panchromatic PAN), multi-spectral image, with a spatial resolution of less than 20cm and a radiometric resolution of 12 bits per channel.

The image, which is captured at a lower altitude, has a much better resolution than those produced by satellites. This information is then supplemented by data captured by the LiDAR system to calculate the Digital Elevation Model (DEM).

The team at UPM hopes the technology will produce better hydraulic simulation models based on more detailed geographical information to support decision making in flood-risk management. The technology was recently unveiled at the Water Engineering Conference in Madrid.