Development of a Methodology (and
Identification of Responsible Parties) for Capturing Information and
Data after a Flood Event in Scotland (June, 2007)
Since the late 1980s, Scotland has experienced an increased frequency
of high intensity rainfall and storms. Indeed, under current
climate change predictions there is a strong likelihood that the
frequency of such extreme events will increase. Consequently,
we can expect to experience increased flood risk through a greater
incidence of flooding from all sources. It is therefore
essential and timely that a National flood data collection strategy is
developed to help inform a coherent response to this risk.
To be effective the data collection strategy must be the responsibility
of a central coordinating organisation and:
- incorporate and enhance data already collected by
- promote sharing of data between stakeholders in a
constructive manner; and,
- provide electronic data access to support the range of
The principal objectives of this project were as follows:
- Identify the organisations within Scotland, which are
currently collecting data information after a flood event.
- Develop a methodology appropriate for data capture after a
flood event in Scotland; and,
- Develop a standardised electronic template for recording
Most of the data identified as essential is already collected by the
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) (river flow and
rainfall), the Met Office (rainfall, wind speed), Port Authorities and
the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (tide and storm surge levels),
Local Authorities (properties, businesses and roads affected) and
Scottish Water (properties, businesses and roads affected).
Other organisations, such as the emergency services, also hold data on
the timing of flooding and road closures, which may be useful in some
During the information gathering phase of the project the need to
supplement the above data through the collection of
“live” information was identified
(“live” data refers to data which are either
destroyed or degraded soon after the event). This
“live” information will enable post flood analysis
of the mechanisms of flooding, sources of flood water, flow routes
during floods, maximum water depths and inundation extent.
For the majority of floods this can be achieved using digital still and
video photography. For floods of large spatial extent aerial
photography may also prove useful.
Central to the methodology will be a metadata template.
Metadata is the minimum amount of information that needs to be provided
to convey the nature and content of the data resource. The
principal advantage of metadata is that it eliminates the need to hold
data in a central place. The information provided falls into
broad categories to convey the nature and content of the data resource:
The metadata standard recommended by this project is consistent with
that developed by the DEFRA & EA Joint R & D programme
in Flood and Coastal Defence under project FD2323
“Improving Data and Knowledge Management for Effective Flood
and Coastal Erosion Risk Management”. The
co-ordinating organisation will hold the metadata with the source data
being held by the responsible bodies.
- title, description and quality of the data set;
- abstract detailing reasons for data collection;
- the date that the dataset was created and the update
cycles, if any;
- the originator and data supplier for each component of the
- geographical extent, spatial co-ordinates, geographical
names or administrative areas; and,
- information on how to access data, data formats, storage
media, constraints on data use.
In the case of major floods (see below for definition) the
co-ordinating organisation will also commission and archive a data
availability and quality report. The electronic version of
this report will include the “live” data collected
during the event.
Discussions with Stakeholders during targeted interviews and two
consultation workshops have identified SEPA as the most appropriate
Stakeholder discussions also identified the following framework and
thresholds for the collection and archiving of flood data. As
discussed the main change is to data collection associated with a major
flood, whereas, those in the moderate and nuisance category represent
business as usual for the responsible bodies.
Table 1: Data collection
economic consequences and/or risk to life.
incident declared under the Civil Contingencies Act.
organisations have staff on site. Additional resource
made available in form of sub contracted flood data collection (FDC)
team. FDC team to liaise with SEPA, LA & SW staff to
priority flood data collection activities.
of property or diversion of transport.
as usual’. LA or SW officer obliged to collect data.
from the public.
as usual’. LA officer may visit site.
When a flood is declared a major incident under the Civil Contingencies
Act, the co-ordinating body will take account of the work already
undertaken by SEPA, local authorities and SW staff in coordinating work
to be undertaken by the third party data collection team.
This team will visit the site(s) during or shortly after the flood (If
the flood is wide spread and covers many locations then the team will
need to prioritise locations to be visited). This team will
prioritise the locations to be visited during or shortly after the
flood and be responsible for:
It is anticipated that the flood data collection team will be a
contractor (or contractors) engaged by the co-ordinating organisation
using a call-off contract. This arrangement is similar to
that already operated by SEPA to collect additional data to enhance
their flood risk maps. Specification of the essential data
collection activities required under the call-off contract is under
development as part of the current project. The flood data
collection team will respond to the directions of the staff from the
Local Authority, Scottish Water and will liaise directly with the
Emergency Response Centre, for essential safety information and to
ensure that greater coverage of data collection is achieved.
- Collecting “live” data during the
flood, as mentioned above the “live” data will
mainly consist of time and date stamped digital photography;
- Interpreting and leveling, by means of appropriate
surveying techniques the “live” data to determine:
the mechanisms of flooding, sources of flood water, flow routes during
floods, maximum water depths and inundation extent; This may be done at
the same time as (1) or during a revisit to the sites within a time
agreed by the coordinating team.
- Ensuring other essential data has been captured by those
organisations for its collection;
- Identify deficiencies in the data collected by others (e.g.
outflanking of flow gauging stations) and where appropriate taking
- Completing metadata record for archiving in the national
- Providing SEPA, SW and affected LAs with a data
availability and quality report within four weeks of the event.
Third party collection of “live” data is considered
essential as those normally involved in data collection for the
responsible bodies are fully engaged in managing the incident during a
major flood. The data collection team will also continue the
in-situ post event data collection, including collating anecdotal and
other information, such as local resident statements and photographs
A moderate flood results in some form of economic consequence, either
from flooding of property of significant diversion of
transport. Responsible organisations already collect data for
moderate floods and are confident that their own data collection
mechanisms are sufficient in such circumstances.
Consequently, for a moderate flood, data collection will remain as
required of the responsible bodies to enable them to discharge their
obligations under current legislation. An additional
requirement will be that the responsible bodies will complete and
submit an abbreviated metadata record for archiving on the national
Nuisance flooding is that which results in problems of a minor nature
and does not result in damage to property or significant transport
diversions. At the Stakeholder Workshop some LAs reported
that they record this information, when made aware of the
problem. Those currently recording this data will continue to
do so and complete abbreviated metadata records if they consider it
A data template has been developed that will enable the metadata for a
flooding event to be collected. There are three separate
templates depending on the magnitude of the flooding event, with
separate requirements for storing the collected data on the
template. These templates were then trialed against four past
flooding events (Elgin 1997, Elgin 2002, Glasgow 2002 and Outer
Hebrides 2005). The template was shown to be a suitable tool
within which to hold the event metadata. The review
highlighted that the templates would assist with the collation of the
event metadata and allows the identification of flooding events on a
National Scale. Completing the template, soon after the event
would assist in ensuring better coverage of the data is achieved and
would assist with the formation of the Web based GIS database,
identifying the flooding event location and what data is available and
where for each event.
Based on our consultations (questionnaires, targeted meetings,
stakeholder workshop, steering group meetings) we have reached the
Data collection for moderate and nuisance flooding represents business
as usual for responsible organisations, with the additional requirement
of completing and filing an abbreviated metadata record.
- SEPA have been identified
as the most
appropriate coordinating organisation.
- Thresholds for data
been defined in terms of major, moderate and nuisance flooding.
- Most data required is
collected, and the main changes are the collection of
“live” data during or shortly after major floods,
the authoring and archiving of a data availability and quality report
for major floods and creation of a metadata record for major and
- Identification of
of the metadata record and the contents of the data availability and
quality report, chapter 4.
- The creation of the
the collection of “live” data and the authoring of
the data availability and quality report can best be achieved by a
call-off contract let be SEPA.
Flood data, categorisation, national database, metadata and
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