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Smarter Stormwater Drainage to head off Localized Flooding, Intensifying Rainfall in London borough

Croydon, UK

At a Glance

The town of Croydon, UK is facing longer, drier periods and higher flood risk between storms. New data streams are informing the town's drainage strategy and response to more frequent high-intensity rainfall events, while operational dashboards better coordinate resources before and during storms.

Problem Addressed

Ten miles south of Central London, the leading business, financial & culture center of Croydon is facing severe changes in weather patterns. Before 2000 rainfall was considerably below England’s average. Now action is being taken to prevent and minimize road closures and public dangers due to more frequent and more heavy rainfall.

As the lead local flood authority in its jurisdiction, Croydon Council needed more than word of mouth and visual observations of historical flooding events. Reliable monitoring of hydrometeorological datasets over time and at specific sites is essential to ensure sustainable stormwater drainage as well as inform planning and economic development efforts.

The London borough of Croydon used/is using KISTERS datasphere to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

To address address the threat of flooding, borough staff first identified data gaps or absences of information. Until recently, the nearest weather station was at London Gatwick Airport. Croydon installed sensors by HyQuest Solutions, a KISTERS brand, in areas where flooding has been occurring often to monitor water level in real time and precisely detect rainfall at each flooding hotspot.

In addition, the town is incorporating KISTERS datasphere. The cloud service validates and displays the information from sensors and hyperlocal weather radar forecasts. Enhanced staff coordination before, during and after potential flooding events in achieved with alerts and operational dashboards.

KISTERS datasphere presents sensor data in the larger context of river level sensors and rain gauges owned and operated by UK’s Environmental Agency. Flood risk managers are empowered to compare Croydon and regional observations and confirm that rainfall intensity and patterns are causing rising water levels – rather than trash accumulation at a BMP. The data visualization virtually extends the borough’s monitoring network without hardware purchases and maintenance expenses. (Datasets from other organizations including UK’s Meteorological Office can be added easily for a more comprehensive picture.)

Moreover, user-defined alarms trigger emails and text messages (SMS) when site-specific water levels are detected and flooding imminent. Alarms quickly bring risks to the attention of flood risk managers and maintenance teams on duty who are able to confirm and act on developing situations.

Since ground-based sensors are limited to recording present and past observations, extremely precise radar rainfall forecasts also are displayed in datasphere. Time series from these future datasets help prioritize maintenance of particular sites before flooding occurs. User-defined, site-specific alerts can be set on the time series to maximize the preparation time.

The hosted software empowers each user to use a common web browser with unique login credentials for secure access to sensitive information.


  1. Sensors enable Croydon to collect objective data about rainfall at particular drainage sites, where flooding often occurred. Active site monitoring by field crew mitigates concerns.
  2. Precise forecasts, alerts & dashboards enhance coordination before potential flooding. Customized by groups or individuals, dashboards of the most relevant information help fulfill duties.
  3. datasphere archives user-defined alarms, creating an audit trail to continually improve on standard operating procedures.
  4. The borough can conveniently integrate and confirm its own jurisdictional monitoring data with information from national and adjacent data providers.

Lessons Learned

  1. The borough’s size or budget doesn’t constrain its access to data richness and similar data / IT innovations used by national agencies, the Environmental Agency, or Met Council.
  2. Flood managers rich in anecdotal knowledge help define alerts for flooding hotspots; the enterprise is formally taking into account this largely informal source of qualitative data.
  3. The upfront investment includes the price of instrumentation in locations that were once unmonitored. Ongoing SaaS costs are significantly lower.

Something Unique

Webcams were installed at some drainage sites. Images appear in datasphere, helping staff validate data values from sensors. Convenient monitoring of debris accumulation on trash screens saves field staff time and fuel from unnecessary site visits.

Who Should Consider?

Small to medium-sized stormwater utilities or flood control groups who want to operationalize anecdotal knowledge of flood risk managers and synthesize flood warning and forecast data in a hosted service.

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