How infoWorks ICM can assist in preparing for a changing climate


Courtesy of Innovyze

Governments around the world seeing the effects of major climate events, such as the 2011 Japanese earthquake and following tsunami, have rightly taken a new look at the risks faced by their infrastructure. In May 2011, the UK Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released a report on preparing key national infrastructure for climate change* whose recommendations put the spotlight firmly on countering risks such as flooding.

From the report, it is clear that modeling could play a vital role in fulfilling a number of the recommendations. Innovyze’s groundbreaking InfoWorks ICM, the first fully-integrated urban and river catchment modeling solution, is already proving itself around the world as an effective means of identifying at-risk infrastructure.

Adaptation to climate change is already an important part of UK National Policy Statements and the National Infrastructure Plan. However, in its new report, the government warns that “we and others – owners, operators, investors and professional bodies – all need to do better and do more”.

The expert report stresses the need to reduce the risk that climate change impacts present to infrastructure interdependencies, and provides suggestions on how to improve access by industry to specific climate information and research through better information sharing, disclosure of risk and evidence.

It also notes that “achieving more climate resilient infrastructure requires the impacts of climate change to be a key consideration in the way that significant pieces of infrastructure in the energy, ICT, transport and water sectors are planned and commissioned, designed, built and maintained”.

The summary of risks shows that the danger of flooding cuts across all four national infrastructure sectors (which are defined for this report as energy, transport, ICT and water). In the energy sector risks are identified to a wide range of vital assets including fossil fuel and nuclear power plants, nuclear waste processing sites, power transmission and distribution systems, electricity sub-stations, copper and fibre optic cables, and more generally low-lying infrastructure and underground facilities.

In other sectors, the report highlights flood risks to roads, rail lines, ports, airports, water supply and treatment infrastructure and wastewater infrastructure as well as an increased risk of sewer flooding.

Modeling solution

Modeling, using Innovyze’s groundbreaking InfoWorks ICM solution, is a highly-effective, proven means of identifying infrastructure at risk of flooding across the entire spread of national infrastructure sectors identified by Defra.

InfoWorks ICM enables the creation of a single model that contains all of the salient features in an environment, including infrastructure assets, with a unified hydrology, modeling above and below-ground flows and their interactions for both rural and urban catchments.

Combined with an integrated 2D modeling engine, InfoWorks ICM has all the capabilities to create highly detailed models of the hydrological cycle and flooding. In situations where national risks are to be determined a high level of accuracy is required, as in certain situations even a small chance of flooding may have large consequences making such an area one of high risk. It is not sufficient to simply identify areas of large, obvious flooding, which at many times may have limited or no consequence on key assets or human life.

Better information sharing

The report’s requirement for better information sharing can be fulfilled by presenting timely and comprehensive data in an easily-understood format such as InfoWorks ICM. For instance, the solution’s thematic maps colour assets based on a chosen model parameter, allowing results to be visually interpreted by both laypeople and experts.

The solution’s interface has been described as ‘excellent’ by a major global consultancy, Atkins Group, which also praised the clear presentation of results, which can be exported seamlessly to GIS (ESRI and MapInfo) or other third-party applications such as Excel and Access as required.

Disclosure of risk and evidence

Providing data to disclose risk and for use as evidence can be easily achieved through InfoWorks’ ICM’s powerful reporting capabilities. Results can be presented in a variety of formats – graphical, longitudinal sections, two or three-dimensional, or as text or statistical reports.

The solution can also import network survey data directly from CCTV reports, so pipe condition – an important factor in determining the likelihood of sewer flooding and blockage – can be easily assessed and reported.

InfoWorks ICM boasts advanced scenario management that allows a variety of “what if” situations and risk assessments to be undertaken. Efficient batching and scheduling of simulations means the effects of a variety of scenarios can be determined accurately and quickly.

The solution provides a powerful evidence base for any risk assessment undertaken to fulfill the obligations of the growing list of climate change regulations and requirements. Modeling results provide comprehensive, accurate information on the full range of assets under any given climate scenario.

Climate-proofing maintenance regimes

The Defra report also stresses that existing infrastructure can be made climate resilient by ensuring maintenance regimes incorporate resilience to the impacts of climate change over an asset’s lifetime.

InfoWorks ICM enables a comprehensive understanding of the operation of wastewater assets that facilitates proactive, predictive maintenance to resolve known and potential asset performance and lifetime issues.

Climate-proofing new assets

In addition, the report observes that new infrastructure can be made climate resilient by ensuring assets are located, designed, built and operated with the current and future climate in mind.

InfoWorks ICM’s Real Time Control abilities, which allow control structures to be programmed to automatically respond to conditions in the system during a simulation, ensure optimum operation under whatever climatic conditions prevail.

The solution is also ideal for determining the location of new assets, as the full 2D surface flood modeling can be applied across both the wastewater and river components of a model, providing extremely precise modeling of flood flows through complex geometries.

Cost estimates can be performed for pipe replacement programmes, including adjustments for inflation.

Predicting changes in consumer demand

Adaptation measures suggested include ensuring investment decisions take account of changing patterns of consumer demand as a result of climate change.

InfoWorks ICM is specifically designed to enable assessment of catchments’ future needs under growth or climate change conditions so that various scenarios can be identified and analyzed for investment purposes.

The solution also has a ‘maxima’ button that instantly presents the “worst case” scenario for each individual model element, whether it be water levels in a manhole, flow velocity or any other parameter, allowing easy identification of extreme climate effects.

Revealing interdependencies

The requirement to understand the interdependencies between the various national infrastructure sectors can also be effectively progressed using InfoWorks ICM.

The solution’s three-dimensional terrain views present ground topography, including the extent of any flooding across the ground surface, in a clear, readily-understandable format. Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) can be utilized as a layer within the model, and highly-precise LIDAR data can be imported to ensure ground levels accurately represent the catchment.

Given the solution’s ability to incorporate location data for any required combination of infrastructure assets from Ordnance Survey maps, modeling results therefore provide an excellent visualization tool to identify the relationship between infrastructures in tandem with their likelihood of flooding.


The ability to include within the model objects such as bridges, rail lines and power pylons, teamed with its powerful combination of 1D and 2D modeling and representation of both above and below-ground flows and their interactions, sets InfoWorks ICM apart from other modeling solutions in its ability to undertake effective infrastructure flood risk prediction.

The solution’s ability to create more powerful and accurate models than ever before ensures fast, practical predictions can be made to aid a wide spectrum of climate-change related infrastructure decisions.

Climate Resilient Infrastructure: Preparing for a Changing Climate

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