A project using the latest artificial intelligence (AI) to improve flood warning systems for rural communities is getting underway in Northumberland.

Cutting edge technology being used for flood warning scheme

A project using the latest artificial intelligence (AI) to improve flood warning systems for rural communities is getting underway in Northumberland. 

Many rural communities near rivers that rise quickly after rainfall do not receive flood warnings. The Next Generation Flood Resilience (NGFR) project is developing an innovative AI flood warning system to help. This will support near real-time flood forecasting outside existing flood forecasting services. 

The project is being trialled in Acomb, Haltwhistle, Hepscott, Ovingham, Riding Mill and Stocksfield. Sensors such as rain gauges, water level and soil moisture sensors will be installed in these trial catchments which will capture data in real time to feed flood models generating advanced flood warnings. 

The latest phase involves engaging with landowners in the project catchment areas. 

The Council’s Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management project team is working alongside Northumbria University, Environment Agency, Isle Utilities and Arup to deliver this innovative project. 

Councillor Colin Horncastle, Cabinet Member for Looking After Our Environment with Northumberland County Council, explained: 

“We know from experience the damage flooding can cause in our communities. Next Generation Flood Resilience (NGFR) will provide greater resilience to flooding in communities. 

“It will build wider community resilience through improved health and wellbeing and reduced anxiety. 

This innovative method will provide a solution for these areas that aren’t currently covered by a flood warning system.” 

As part of the recent Environment Agency Flood Warning Expansion programme, Acomb and Stocksfield will now receive flood warnings and the NGFR project aims to build upon and improve this flood warning system. 

Simon Wilson, area flood risk manager at the Environment Agency said: “Warning communities in fast responding catchments can be challenging because flooding is more difficult to predict and there is less time to warn them so they can prepare themselves and their property. We look forward to seeing the development of this technology which will give rural communities an innovative flood warning system so they can be better prepared. 

“The Environment Agency offers a free flood warning service for flooding from rivers and the sea. People can check their flood risk on gov.uk and sign-up for warnings if their home is at risk of flooding.” 

This project is funded by Defra as part of the £200 million Flood and Coastal Innovation Programmes which is managed by the Environment Agency. The programme will drive innovation in flood and coastal resilience and adaptation to a changing climate. 

For more information go to https://engageenvironmentagency.uk.engagementhq.com/ngfr  

To find out more or get involved email: fcerm@northumberland.gov.uk

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