CGI hired by Environment Agency to deliver Future Flood Forecasting System

13 February 2017

The UK faces increased risk from storm damage, including large scale flooding events, as extreme weather intensifies. To more accurately predict key weather events, as well as create user friendly outputs for key stakeholders, the Environment Agency has hired CGI to create a Future Flood Forecasting System. The contract runs for three years and is valued at £5 million.

The UK has in recent years been battered by stormy weather, which has led to sever flooding in parts of the country. Winter floods in 2013/2014 affected thousands, and killed 17. The winter of 2015-16 also saw considerable flooding across the UK from Storm Desmond, Storm Eva and Storm Frank, among other heavy storms. Damages from the events ran in the order of billions of pounds, while pushing the government to review its predictions – including the anticipation for 20-30% more extreme rainfall than before. Key climate science warns that the risk of flooding, and property damage and insurance claims as a result, are likely to increase as the global climate becomes less stable due to climate change effects.

As the unpredictability, and frequency, of extreme weather events increases, the Environment Agency (EA) has turned to CGI to deliver and operate a new Future Flood Forecasting System. The system, which leverages scalable cloud computing, is predicted to be better able to help the EA produce key flood prediction from which actionable forecasts for a range of stakeholders are produced.

CGI hired by Environment Agency to deliver Future Flood Forecasting System

The system, which is focused on being highly configurable and user friendly, will allow a variety of information streams to be integrated to provide up-to-date and accurate information about impending floods as well as the current situation on the ground. Through the integration of data streams, and their dissemination to key stakeholders, the human element of the severe impact of flood events may be better managed through effective mitigation actions.The contract runs for three years at a value of £5 million for CGI.

“We are absolutely committed to increasing the timeliness, accuracy and usefulness of our flood forecasts in order to improve our response to flooding, and the Future Flood Forecasting System will play a key role. It will bring together regional systems into a single national system to make it quicker and easier to monitor forecasts and provide our experts with more time to analyse the data and communicate with our teams on the ground,” says Craig Woolhouse, Deputy Director Flood Incident Management at the Environment Agency.

“This is a data-centric, mission-critical system and CGI is proud to have been selected to develop it. We are implementing the very best technologies, and developing using an agile methodology, to ensure that the system evolves regularly and absolutely reflects the needs of users,” adds Elwyn Jones, Vice President of UK Central Government and Justice at CGI. “We have married our own capabilities with extensive hydrology expertise from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the latest innovations from British SME, Mapcite. This solution will digitally transform the way floods are forecasted across the country.”

Related news: Oxera Consulting: Building affordable flood insurance.



How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.