06 July 2015 | Online since 2003

GaugeMap brings river data to life for the first time via twitter



10 July 2014 12:18:46|News

GaugeMap brings river data to life for the first time via twitter


A unique collaborative project has been launched by Shoothill, that uses Twitter to bring a constant stream of Environment Agency live river level data to users.

Shoothill GaugeMap takes the real-time data gathered by the Environment Agency river level monitoring stations and brings it to life in an accessible and user-friendly way via a website and dedicated Twitter accounts.

Building on an established relationship with the Environment Agency, and working to create thousands of new Twitter accounts for over 2,400 river level gauges, 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, catchment area or status (normal level, below average or risk of flooding) and are also able to follow on Twitter any gauges that will be of interest to them. The website map features all of the Environment Agency river level and tidal gauges, and a unique Twitter account has been created for each of them. Twice per day, each gauge tweets its current status. For example, Teddington Lock now has its own Twitter account: twitter.com/riverlevel_1182.

"This is the first time that an instant and holistic view of all 2,400 Environment Agency river level gauges has been made possible," said Rod Plummer, MD at Shoothill. "We have created a system for anyone who needs to know the current status of any river in England and Wales and by working to create thousands of twitter accounts, we have allowed that river to "tweet" its status to everyone."

Shoothill previously worked closely with the Environment Agency to create FloodAlerts which is the primary live flood map used by the Environment Agency and the Media.

GaugeMap builds on the success of FloodAlerts and offers vital river information even when there is no direct risk of flooding.

"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."

Currently, river gauges are set to tweet information twice a day, but can be increased during times of major flooding incidents. River level data is set to a five-day historic view when a gauge is clicked, and shows lowest and average levels, and flood risk level.

GaugeMap works on all modern browser combinations and on tablets and smartphones, ensuring those who need the information at their fingertips can get instant access.

"By combining this vast and constantly updating dataset with social media in this way, Shoothill has created something that, for the first time, allows the 10 million regular users of our river network, to easily find and monitor information relevant to them by simply following the relevant gauge on Twitter," continued Plummer.

The development of GaugeMap builds on Shoothill's previous experience in this field and applies the gains made in visualising flooding data to a new technology and new audiences. Realising the potential in the huge amount of relevant information being collected by the Environment Agency every day, Shoothill built its system from scratch in order to take this data to a disparate group of users in a universally useful way.

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