The massive scale of one of the biggest flood mapping projects in Australia

Alana Deghelli
Alana Deghelli October 30, 2020 3 min read

An ambitious project to roll out one of the largest flood mapping projects in Australia is using InfoWorks ICM for flood modelling and data management. The Tasmanian Flood Map Project, supported by the expertise of WMAwater, SES Tasmania, Indicium Dynamics and Innovyze, will use a modern technology platform and up-to-date methodology to support and benefit the residents of Tasmania, assisting them to better understand their flood risk.

map of tasmania
Topographic map of Tanzania, courtesy of Zamonin, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

What was the need for the project?

The devastating 2016 floods in Tasmania were declared a national disaster, claimed three lives and changed the landform and river courses forever. This made it clear how critical it was for the region to improve flooding intelligence to better understand flood risks. Once completed, the project will allow for more effective investments in recovery and increased community resilience during future flood events.

What each party brings to the table

SES Tasmania have taken a leading role in dedicating meaningful resources to the project and have hired a local full-time hydrologist to work alongside the WMAwater team. There have been significant investments in the accuracy and management of the required input data for the flood mapping by the Tasmanian government, and this will be key to delivering reliable decision support outcomes. SES and WMAwater have shared project resources with cross coverage of project data, model management and project methodology to promote team upskilling to ensure a long-term in-house capability inside SES Tasmania.

Autodesk’s InfoWorks ICM was chosen as the flood modelling project’s critical platform for delivering the flood model. The decision behind the selection of InfoWorks ICM was the platform’s powerful data management tools, user friendly interface and ability to go ‘live’ in future. The project’s very large datasets can be easily managed, versioned, updated and maintained over time using the master database system. This, along with the intuitive and user-friendly interface makes the software more accessible to non-modellers and promotes more successful long-term adoption. In addition, the flood models delivered from the project will allow the state to later upgrade to a digital twin of the landscape to enable real-time flood forecasting to understand flood risks as they are happening in ICMLive, an expansion of the InfoWorks ICM platform.

WMAwater is a national leader in flood modelling and management. Their technical expertise has been engaged to develop the modelling methodology and all hydrologic and hydrodynamic model outputs. Rather than delivering a static flood map output that would date quickly, the project methodology has been developed so the model input data can be updated as the land profile and asset data changes – preparing the region for a future flood forecasting tool that can be used in real-time with the latest data. The full project methodology has been developed for future success catering for further detailed modelling in selected areas and WMAwater has developed a state-wide guide to infiltration rates which can be used for other local projects within the state.

Indicium Dynamics have significant experience in cloud computing and setting up system requirements for forecasting projects. They are providing the IT infrastructure and platform support for the project, including setting up automated software deployment and upgrades for improved system management and disaster recovery.

What’s next? Where are we at in the plan?

Training on InfoWorks ICM and RAFTS hydrology has commenced and is empowering the water experts involved, enabling their organisations to be able to better understand and manage flood risk into the future.

In less than 90 days, the first fully integrated hydrology, 1D and 2D model was completed for a pilot catchment to validate both methodology and result outputs, showcasing the power of the software’s user friendly and intuitive interface designed to rapidly meet project goals.

Once reviewed and finalised, the model will be expanded for full state-wide coverage. The result will be a state-wide flood model that can easily be maintained by SES to enable better development planning controls and a faster, more targeted response to disasters.

The project continues to raise awareness of flood risk in the state of Tasmania and the benefits of the study will provide support to the community for their wellbeing during future flooding disasters.

Reports that detail the progress of this project are available on the SES Tasmania website.