Location intelligence and flood risk

Marc Hobell on how location intelligence technology is helping one Somerset council prepare for a repeat of last year’s flooding.

So far this season, the winter has been relatively kind to South West England. This time last year, it was an entirely different story. 

Parts of Somerset in particular were deluged by rain, causing widespread floods which isolated communities and devastated farms as high tides and gale force winds battered the county.

Floodwaters reached eight feet in some areas, causing the evacuation of hundreds of people from their homes and resulting in millions of pounds worth of damage.

The district of Sedgemoor, which lies within the heartlands of rural Somerset, was one of the worst affected. Sedgemoor District Council serves this area, which has a population of 46,000 households and covers 217 square miles of the county, from the Mendip hills across the Somerset levels.

The council is responsible for management across various areas of Sedgemoor life, including planning, building, housing, community, living, waste and the environment.

As well as working hard to bring the region and its economy back to its former glory following the floods, the council has been taking significant steps to minimise the impact of similar weather conditions this season, and location intelligence technology is set to play a key part.  

Using location analytics to minimise risk

Location intelligence technology draws together information from different sources – maps or geographic information systems for example – providing meaningful data which can be analysed in detail.

Using location intelligence, Sedgemoor District Council can tap into its own valuable data resources across the region.  Analysing this information means it can understand the area’s exposure to risk, help the region prepare itself for the unexpected and work to ensure contingencies are put in place.

Critically for the council, the technology integrates easily with existing systems, so that different data sets – past, present or predictive – can be pulled together and analysed to create a clear picture.

The Council can map the properties and addresses worst hit by flooding in the past, and most vulnerable to flood risk in the future. 

And its use of location intelligence technology goes beyond flood management: it is used across the region to identify and improve the management of activity such as waste collection, street light maintenance, and the upkeep of outdoor spaces.  Ultimately, it brings a more efficient, streamlined and controlled approach to improving citizen’s lives in the region.

Location intelligence in everyday life

Whilst innovative in its use of location intelligence, Sedgemoor District Council is not the only local government authority making the most of these tools.

Public sector organisations are now widely using this kind of intelligence behind-the-scenes to make decisions each and every day. 

Police use the tools to decide how to deploy resources based on crime statistics; highways agencies use spatial data to make decisions on traffic and road management; and healthcare services use location intelligence tools to identify population demographics, and tailor the services they provide.

For Sedgemoor District Council and its citizens, location intelligence is clearly playing a critical part in helping it improve the services it provides to citizens, come rain or shine.

Marc Hobell is director of location intelligence at supplier Pitney Bowes

Colin Marrs

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