InfoWorks RS and FloodWorks: the evolving story

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Courtesy of Innovyze

InfoWorks RS was launched in 2002 as the successor to the highly-successful ISIS river modeling software. Sales Manager, Tyrone Parkinson, explains: “Customers were building bigger and bigger models, increasing both the area of coverage and also the level of detail, and this presented new challenges in terms of efficient data management. New data sources were becoming more readily available, most notably LiDAR data that provided detailed ground level information along river valleys and floodplains. This changed the way modelers could represent out of bank area and approach the model building process.”

Rapid development has continued, driven by changing user requirements, new regulations, advances in the state of the science such as finite volume modeling methods and new conveyance estimation methods, and Wallingford Software’s own desire to continue to improve its products.

Most recently, the functionality of InfoWorks RS has changed significantly with the inclusion of the InfoWorks 2D module and the HR Breach methods in v9.0. The 2D module uses a finite volume engine to simulate the flow of water in channels, over floodplains and in or around walls, buildings, roads and other urban infrastructure.

Mr. Parkinson explains: “Representing the flows in 2D provides much more detail and accuracy, particularly for local water levels and velocities and is particularly useful for flood damage assessment and analyzing risk to life from flood inundation. The HR Breach methods allow for simulation of the failure of both homogeneous and composite embankments and dams (a major factor in flood risk assessment) through piping, overtopping or failure of the surface protection layers. Providing completely integrated 1D, 2D and breach simulation functionality in a single product (single model networks, single data storage, single simulation and single results analysis and post-processing) ensures that InfoWorks RS remains the most advanced flood modeling product available today.”

FloodWorks was launched in 2000 to offer a packaged, off-the-shelf product for real time flood forecasting and warning. Mr. Parkinson notes,  “Engineers and hydrologists at Wallingford Software had been involved in both R&D for real-time flood forecasting technology and also the development and implementation of operational systems for some 20 years. The systems that were delivered were all based upon customized software. While the modeling software and computation engines may have come from packaged products, the software framework that linked these models together and to the live data sources was unique to each application. Similarly the user interfaces and databases were also specific to each customer.”

The widespread flooding in Europe and Asia in the late 1990s raised awareness of the benefits of real-time flood forecasting and warning. It created a demand for systems that could be easily and efficiently delivered, at both a national and local scale, and easily supported and expanded as new data, new models and new sources of real-time data became available. FloodWorks was designed to meet this demand.

Most recently, v9.0 supports both the InfoWorks CS and SD products within a FloodWorks system to allow forecasting of flooding from urban stormwater and wastewater systems. This significant enhancement meets the growing need for detailed urban flood forecasting and warning.

Modeling trends
Mr. Parkinson explains,“River and flood modeling is in a transitional stage, moving from looking at a 1D representation of a problem to integrating 1D and 2D. Two-dimensional modeling is a huge leap from 1D, and is clearly a major step forward. The main trend in the market will undoubtedly be towards use of the 2D engine, which uniquely allows 2D sections to be run seamlessly within a larger overall 1D model to dramatically improve runtimes.”

Linking telemetric data to dynamic models, which allows real-time flood forecasting, is a developing trend. Observations of precipitation, stages and flows, and the results of weather forecasting, can be fed into a model that can link to a real time publicly-accessible website. Such a system can allow the public to access detailed information on current and forecast flood levels and rainfall.

Key markets
The solutions’ main market is Europe, which over the next five years will increase to include the whole of the former Eastern European and ex-Soviet states. As these nations have sought EU membership there has been massive (and often externally-funded) investment firstly in wastewater treatment, followed by water supply, flood control and stormwater management, to bring the level of these systems up to the minimum standards found throughout Europe. This is driving interest in both modeling river systems and provision of flood warning networks.

Far East Sales Manager, Andrew Brown, adds, “The solutions also have an extremely strong market in the Far East, where a number of countries are using both InfoWorks RS and FloodWorks in what is often an extremely flood-prone region. Specifically, InfoWorks RS and FloodWorks are widely used in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and China. Kuala Lumpur will probably provide the first use of integrated 1D and 2D flood modeling. Projects in this area have integrated flood and water quality modeling and water resource management, and have produced real-time flood forecasting and warning systems.”

In terms of the reaction to the latest improvements in the solutions, Mr. Parkinson says,  “There has been a very positive reaction to the introduction of 2D in RS, and there has been immediate interest in all of the markets around the globe. Sales are being made across Europe, Asia and the UK.”

“Sales are being driven by a combination of factors including the facility to model in the level of detail that people require. The ability to cope with large models that use large amounts of data efficiently, at speed, and the stability of the engine are all key, as is the ability to analyse swiftly alongside other desktop CAD information,” notes Mr. Parkinson.

World trends
Mr. Parkinson says,  “The main driver is tighter environmental regulation, which applies across a number of sectors including flooding, water and wastewater treatment, and network management. In all these sectors there is a growing mass of regulation about the quality of water, the impact on the environment, levels of service and operations. Whether the operators are water companies or municipal authorities, they have got to demonstrate that they are complying with these rules.

“As a result, the instrumentation and telemetry markets have developed new technologies that enable recording of more detail, and as a consequence models are being built in much more detail as well. This has been a major trend for a number of years and is likely to continue to be.”

Severe flooding is becoming an increasingly common phenomenon around the world and this is driving use of both InfoWorks RS and FloodWorks. Particular legislation such as the EU Floods Directive, which calls for mapping of risk areas, is a powerful driver.

In the UK, the Pitt report on the widespread and damaging flooding during the summer of 2007 has given flood modeling a tremendous boost with its recommendation that “there must be a step change in the quality of flood warnings. This can be achieved through closer cooperation between the Environment Agency and Met Office and improved modeling of all forms of flooding.”

There is also a requirement to model the effects of pollution, says Sales and Marketing Director, Paul Banfield. He notes,  “For InfoWorks RS and FloodWorks the focus is on areas that suffer from severe weather such as hurricanes or cyclones, and the need to model flows and quality in river systems that are being influenced by many different external factors such as drought, salinization and pollution.”

Requirements for flood control, driven by population and industrial growth mean that the solutions are also being increasingly used in countries in the Far East including Thailand and China.

President of Wallingford Software Inc, Tom Davies, says,  “Some of the key things that affect this market are improving efficiency of use, better management of existing resources and better distribution, with a reduced focus on agriculture and an acknowledgement that some of the practices used are no longer sustainable. This means that the ability of InfoWorks RS to facilitate modeling of highly complex channel and floodplain systems, along with its water quality simulation capabilities, are proving critical.”

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