Development of a Methodology (and Identification of Responsible Parties) for Capturing Information and Data after a Flood Event in Scotland (June, 2007)
June 2007


The need
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:

The principal objectives of this project were as follows:
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 circumstances.
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.

The methodology
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.

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.

Coordinating organisation
Discussions with Stakeholders during targeted interviews and two consultation workshops have identified SEPA as the most appropriate coordinating organisation.

Data collection
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 framework
Category Impacts Data collection trigger Action
Major Major economic consequences and/or risk to life. Major incident declared under the Civil Contingencies Act. Data Collection 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 target priority flood data collection activities.
Moderate Economic consequence.   Inundation of property or diversion of transport.  ‘Business as usual’.  LA or SW officer obliged to collect data.
Nuisance No economic consequence. Complaints from the public.  ‘Business as usual’.  LA officer may visit site.
Major flood
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:
  1. Collecting “live” data during the flood, as mentioned above the “live” data will mainly consist of time and date stamped digital photography;
  2. 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.
  3. Ensuring other essential data has been captured by those organisations for its collection;
  4. Identify deficiencies in the data collected by others (e.g. outflanking of flow gauging stations) and where appropriate taking remedial action;
  5. Completing metadata record for archiving in the national flood database;
  6. Providing SEPA, SW and affected LAs with a data availability and quality report within four weeks of the event.
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.

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 etc.

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 flood database.

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 appropriate.

The template
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 following conclusions.
  1. SEPA have been identified as the most appropriate coordinating organisation.
  2. Thresholds for data collection have been defined in terms of major, moderate and nuisance flooding.
  3. Most data required is already 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 moderate floods.
  4. Identification of suitable contents of the metadata record and the contents of the data availability and quality report, chapter 4.
  5. The creation of the metadata record, 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.
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.

Key words: Flood data, categorisation, national database, metadata and electronic template

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