Everything you need to understand the risk of flooding in Wales is now all in one place on our website.
This week we went live with our new online pages for flood warning. In this blog Martin Linforth, Senior Adviser for Flood Warning and Informing at Natural Resources Wales, explains some of the background to this work.
After joining Environment Agency Wales almost 20 years ago, I spent several years helping people at risk of flooding understand who issued flood warnings and where they could get further support and information.
Since Natural Resources Wales was formed, and became responsible for the flood warning service in Wales in 2013, my job has been to lead the work to re-brand our flood warning service.
As we send people flood warning information via text, phone, email and online – there was a lot to do to make it clear that we are the people to come to for flood warning information in Wales.
Most people will hear about flood risk through the media, so it’s really important that people know who is issuing flood warnings - and more importantly - know how to get more information.
As this work involved a good deal of work on computer systems and websites – some that we didn’t directly own – it couldn’t happen overnight. But, with the support of our local Flood Incident Management teams and some former colleagues at the Environment Agency (EA), we were able to complete the re-branding work by the summer of 2014.
Except for one really important component....
We’d done the work to update the messages that went directly to those registered for the flood warning service and developed a map that showed flood warnings in place on our website.
But our customers still had to visit the Environment Agency’s webpages to get all the information they needed, such as detailed information about warning areas, and to view the three day flooding outlook.
This might not seem a bad thing, except for the confusion it caused, particularly when warnings were issued.
Hence my frustration last year when reading a national newspaper over someone’s shoulder on the train reporting that the Environment Agency had issued more flood warnings in Wales. Despite our best efforts, many of our customers, through the media were not getting clear information about who to contact for flood information.
In the background, our ICT teams were already working on the systems needed to develop our website for flood information. And so at last, I have now been able to work with a range of colleagues to complete the missing piece of the puzzle.
The result - our new web-pages that bring together all the information our customers, partners and the media need to fully understand the risk of flooding in Wales.
The new web pages are a blend of things our customers told us they liked about the old site, combined with some new approaches to make it easier to find the information they need.
In just a few clicks, you can
- understand the risk of flooding over the next 3 days (soon to be 5!)
- see what warnings are in force right across Wales
- view greater details for warnings in place
- get the latest predictions of flooding whenever Flood Alerts and Warnings are in force for our communities
You can also check current river levels from our gauges across Wales on our website.
Over the coming months, the EA’s flood warning information for England will be moving to a new home on Gov.UK, and it will not show flood warnings in Wales and Scotland.
Now that we have more information about flood warnings in Wales available on our site, I hope it will be clearer for everyone, including the media to now find information about flood warnings in Wales.
In the meantime there’s still plenty more to do. We'll soon be busy again working on other ways of helping our customers such as developing our smartphone app, increased availability of Welsh language services and easier ways to access our data.
When you read this, it will hopefully be on a warm and sunny day. If so, it would be great if you take a few moments to look around the new pages, bookmark a few relevant pages and give us feedback on how the site could be made even better.
If however, it is more like the weather we are used to in Wales, I hope you will find the web pages to be helpful and easy to use so that you are informed and able to protect your property from flooding.