Faster, better flood warnings with FIDSS

A new flood data management system at Melbourne Water is helping to increase response times for flood warnings and make Melburnians safer​.

The system takes Bureau of Meteorology rainfall data, overlays that on Melbourne Water’s own data and then outputs estimated flood levels in real time. Based on the flood warning levels that are generated, Melbourne Water is able to inform the Bureau and other authorities in order to issue necessary flood warnings.

In May 2017, Melbourne Water was proud to accept the Floodplain Management Australia award for Project of the Year for the new flood warnings tool - the Flood Integrated Decision Support System (FIDSS).

Melbourne Water General Manger Waterways & Land, Tim Wood, said the system was a significant improvement on existing systems.

“The FIDSS system has been configured to consume real time data from a variety of sources,” he said.

“Having the latest information is vital for the prompt warning of flash floods where even a few minutes notice can mean a substantial reduction in the consequences of flooding.”

A review conducted in the mid-2000s found that Melbourne Water had considerable high quality data, floodplain mapping and modelling applications, yet this rich information was not integrated, and during a flood incident response three or more separate systems were needed to be accessed.

FIDSS is the culmination of this data integration process, which has taken several years to complete.

Mr Wood said the new system would provide a range of benefits for Melbourne.
“A number of stakeholders in our community have needed to receive flooding information. With FIDSS the information we provide will be timelier, more accurate and more user friendly.

“In particular the data will better service the community because one element of FIDSS allows flooding to be tracked down to a roads level.

“That means we can look at the information coming out of FIDSS and consider what type of action needs to be taken including which houses need to be evacuated and what roads need to be closed.”

Using this produced by FIDSS, Melbourne Water is actively helping to make Melbourne a more flood resilient city.

“It is hoped that the development and implementation of FIDSS in the future will assist Melbournians living in flood prone areas to put in place better plans that are specific to their area and be prepared and ready should a flood occur.

“We knew it was very important to develop a new flood forecasting system to integrate disparate systems into one solution, making all of our modelling more efficient.

“FIDSS takes rainfall data from the Bureau of Meteorology, overlays that against Melbourne Water’s own rainfall data and then creates an estimated flood level and then it turns that level into a plan.

“Based on the level calculated, the system can then alert the relevant duty officers if the flood is expected to be serious enough. The duty officers then assess the data and, once verified, they will feed back to BOM who issue a flood warning.

“Ultimately, FIDSS is about making Melbourne safer, by providing people with higher quality information about flooding, and faster, by providing the information in a timelier manner.”

Future initiatives for the FIDSS program include the development of a mobile application for flood alerts, programs to encourage wider use across Melbourne and the incorporation of tidal flooding and flash flooding areas into the system.
Media contact
Joseph Keller, Senior Media Advisor. Ph. 0430 219 287 | 03 9654 3234