Melbourne Water has won an award for its new flood data management system, which is helping to increase response times for flood warnings.

In May 2017, Melbourne Water was proud to accept the Floodplain Management Australia award for Project of the Year for the new flood warnings tool – the Flood Integrated Decision Support System (FIDSS).

The system takes Bureau of Meteorology rainfall data, overlays that on Melbourne Water’s own data and then outputs estimated flood levels in real time. Based on the flood warning levels that are generated, Melbourne Water is able to inform the Bureau and other authorities in order to issue necessary flood warnings.

Melbourne Water General Manager Waterways and Land, Tim Wood, said the system was a significant improvement on existing systems.

“The FIDSS system has been configured to consume real-time data from a variety of sources,” Mr Wood said.

“Having the latest information is vital for the prompt warning of flash floods where even a few minutes notice can mean a substantial reduction in the consequences of flooding.”

A review conducted in the mid-2000s found that Melbourne Water had considerable high-quality data, floodplain mapping and modelling applications, yet this rich information was not integrated, and during a flood incident response three or more separate systems were needed to be accessed.

FIDDS is the culmination of this data integration process, which has taken several years to complete.

Mr Wood said the new system would provide a range of benefits for Melbourne.

“A number of stakeholders in our community have needed to receive flooding information. With FIDSS the information we provide will be timelier, more accurate and more user friendly,” Mr Wood said.

“In particular the data will better service the community because one element of FIDSS allows flooding to be tracked down to a roads level.

“That means we can look at the information coming out of FIDSS and consider what type of action needs to be taken, including which houses need to be evacuated and what roads need to be closed.”

Using this information produced by FIDSS, Melbourne Water is actively helping to make Melbourne a more flood resilient city.

“It is hoped that the development and implementation of FIDSS in the future will assist Melbournians living in flood prone areas to put in place better plans that are specific to their area and be prepared and ready should a flood occur,” Mr Wood said.

“FIDSS takes rainfall data from the Bureau of Meteorology, overlays that against Melbourne Water’s own rainfall data and then creates an estimated flood level and then it turns that level into a plan.

“Based on the level calculated, the system can then alert the relevant duty officers if the flood is expected to be serious enough. The duty officers then assess the data and, once verified, they will feed back to BOM who issue a flood warning.”

Future initiatives for the FIDSS program include the development of a mobile application for flood alerts, programs to encourage wider use across Melbourne, and the incorporation of tidal flooding and flash flooding areas into the system.

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