Unique Project Brings Together Big Data, the Natural Environment and Social Media.
A unique collaborative project has been launched, bringing a constant stream of live river level data to anyone who needs to stay up-to-date with environmental conditions. Shoothill GaugeMap brings the real-time status of England and Wales’ rivers and tides from Environment Agency monitoring stations, to people in an accessible and user-friendly manner. It works via the web and Twitter, and is available on all major desktop browsers, tablets and smartphones.
There is a pressing need for real-time data on river levels in the UK. It is estimated that there are over 10 million regular users of the river network and many organisations, companies and farmers require regular updates on river conditions. For example, there are over 20,000 licensed water abstractors in the country.
GaugeMap aims to help to look after and improve the natural environment by allowing these users to access this data on the move, wherever they are. Users can retrieve live data on actual river levels via the website, or by following the new, dedicated Twitter accounts that GaugeMap has established for each of the Environment Agency‘s 2,400+ river level monitoring stations they may be interested in. For example Teddington Lock now has its own Twitter account: https://twitter.com/riverlevel_1182.
“GaugeMap will help any river user to be better informed, whether they use the river for recreation, pleasure or business,” said Rod Plummer, MD at Shoothill. “It also provides accurate, up-to-date information to help with water abstraction and so it could potentially be used to ensure the amount of water being abstracted from any river at any given time is sustainable and acceptable. Over-abstraction of river systems can cause changes in water quality, which obviously can have wide-reaching impacts on the wildlife that relies on our natural waterways, both directly and indirectly.”
The relationship with the Environment Agency is a strong one for Shoothill. GaugeMap is an extension of Shoothill’s FloodAlerts technology that was launched with the Environment Agency in 2012. Similarly to GaugeMap, FloodAlerts takes raw data from the Environment Agency and converts it into a live map showing flood warnings.
“It’s great to see innovative applications such as GaugeMap being developed using the data we provide,” said Dr Paul Leinster, Chief Exec of the Environment Agency. “This is exactly the kind of exciting use of our live data we hoped to see when we became an Open Data organisation earlier this year. We look forward to seeing further innovation based on our data in the future.”
Building on the established relationship with the Environment Agency, and working to create thousands of new registrations for the monitoring sites, GaugeMap represents a new step forward in making big data practical and growing the ‘Internet of Things’.
Users can visit the website to search by geographical location, river name or status (normal level, below average or risk of flooding) and are able to follow on Twitter the gauges that will be of continuing interest to them. The website map features all of the Environment Agency gauges, and each has its own Twitter account. As the data comes through, the river tweets its current status so to keep abreast of any of the gauges an end user just need to ‘follow’ that gauge on Twitter.