UFMRM WG Webinar: “DARE to use CCTV images to improve urban flood forecasts”

It is difficult to accurately predict urban floods; there are many sources of error in urban flood forecast due to unknown model physics, computational limits, input data accuracy etc. However, many sources of model and input errors can be reduced through the use of data assimilation methods – mathematical techniques that combine model predictions with observations to produce more accurate forecast.

In this talk I will motivate and introduce the idea of using CCTV images as a new and valuable additional source of information in cities for improving the urban flood predictions through data assimilation methods. This work is part of the Data Assimilation for REsilient City (DARE) project.

You can see the whole presentation on YouTube here or view slides here.

First recording of surface flooding in London using CCTV cameras

On Friday 2nd of June 2017 Met Office issued a yellow warning of heavy rain with possible hail and lightning over London. Also Environmental Agency issued a number of flood alerts for London for the same period of time. This allowed us to test our newly setup system for recording open data CCTV images from London Transport Cameras (aka JamCams).

Following the flood alerts we setup to record all Transport for London (TFL) cameras which where within the main flood alert areas, these were 4 areas in London.

Figure 1. Areas selected for recording TFL CCTV camera images on 2nd of June 2017 corresponding to flood alerts from Environmental Agency.

This resulted in downloading images from just over 110 CCTV cameras accross from  the marked areas in Figure 1. Download started on many cameras at 2:30pm on 2nd of June 2017 and continued for 24h with an image downloaded every 5min.

Many of these images showed heavy rain as it passed over London on the afternoon of the 2nd June 2017; some cameras even captured images of lightning which was seen over North London but we didn’t capture any images of flooding in the four coloured areas in Figure 1.

Figure 2. Image of heavy rain on A23 Brixton Rd/Vassell Rd as seen by one of the CCTV cameras in London on 2nd July 2017 at 5:19pm

Figure 3. Image of lightning on captured on London CCTV camera at A12 East Cross Route on 2nd of June 2017 at 4:17pm

However, following the flooding allert on London for Transport site allowed us to capture surface flooding that happened on the North Circular road between 4-7pm resulting in traffic jams in the area.

Figure 4. Map of the surface flooding on the North Circular on 2nd of June 2017

The surface flooding was very localised and only one camera captured it, the one just below the blue circle in the Figure 4. We recorded both still and video images from this camera. In the video below you can see the surface flooding affecting the slip road going North.

We are currently setting up similar systems to download live traffic CCTV images from Leeds, Bristol, Exeter, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Tewkesbury.

Flood Crowdsourcing and CCTV sites

by Sanita Vetra-Carvalho

Urban areas nowadays contain many observation networks such as CCTV cameras looking at buildings, streets, parking lots, rivers and traffic. Also, where there are people there are smartphone images,  which are another potential source of information that can be assimilated in urban flooding models to get more accurate flooding forecasts.

Increasing number of research teams and organisations are using this abundance of data and while much CCTV data is available as open data, smartphone images need to be collected from the community. Below we list the networks of CCTV data and crowdsourcing sites known to us for the areas we are interested in: London and the Thames Valley, Exeter, Newcastle, Leeds, Glasgow, and Tewkesbury. This list is not in any way extensive; if you know of further sites or webcams we would love to hear from you (email to: s.vetra-carvalho@reading.ac.uk)!

 

Traffic Webcams

London Traffic Cameras

Highway Traffic Cameras (England)

Leeds Traffic Cameras

Newcastle Traffic Cameras

M5 Southbound (inc. Exeter)

SouthWest Cameras (inc. Exeter)

Sctoland Traffic Cameras (inc. Glasgow)

Reading Town Traffic Cameras

 

River Watercams

Upper Thames Sailing Club (Cookham, Berkshire)

Farson Digital Watercams (UK wide)

Canal and Waterway list of watercams

Avon National Trust live river cameras (Tewkesbury)

 

Live CCTV Cameras

Exeter IP Cameras

 

Crowdsourcing sites

Met Office WoW site (UK wide)

FloodCrowd (UK wide)

Cobweb (EU wide)

 

Other useful flooding websites

Flood Map from Environmental Agency

National River Flow Archive

Loddon Valley Flood Action Group

River levels