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Flood Risk Management for Sainsbury’s Supermarkets

The Challenge

Sainsbury’s Supermarkets are a national supermarket retailer. The company has over 1,400 locations distributed across the United Kingdom. The geographical position of each location is subject to different levels of risk of flooding from rivers and seas and risk of flooding from surface water, ranging from negligible to very high risk levels. In December 2015, during a period of sustained flooding in the North of England, three Sainsbury’s Supermarket locations, Carlisle, Lancaster and Tadcaster were catastrophically flooded and commercially non-functioning for a number of weeks.

The flooding of an individual location creates immediate costs derived from loss of trading and loss of stock, further costs come with the necessary clean up in the aftermath and then longer term costs evolve as retrospective flood mitigation activity takes place. There are also wider issues to consider, such as the public perception of the company in managing a crisis situation.

Solution

Effective management of Flood Risk requires an understanding of both the enduring risk to individual locations and the rapid identification and continual assessment of dynamic flood situations as they evolve. A mature, detailed understanding of enduring flood risk provides a Company with the knowledge and rationale of what long term flood risk management activities to undertake and where. Dynamic flood risk management puts timely and accurate information in front of decision makers to make crisis management decisions, such as whether or not to close a store or to deploy emergency flood protection measures.

Stonehaven Technology recognised that any solution for Sainsbury’s would have to integrate seamlessly with the existing facilities management contract and differing levels of Sainsbury’s management. Specialist knowledge would be required to identify how best to mitigate long term flood risk, whilst verifying and integrating numerous sources of accurate flood related information was key to achieving dynamic flood risk management. The notable changes in the frequency and intensity of rainfall, also created requirements for integration of weather observations and forecasts.

Development commenced in January 2016, using the CUBA Platform as the core technology with an enterprise-ready infrastructure to accelerate a demanding timeline. Exploiting the rich features of the CUBA Platform enabled the first release of Stonehaven’s Flood Risk Management Software in March 2016. Entire development cycle took less than 3 man-months.

Technically the CUBA Platform and its RAD development tool, CUBA Studio, made development extremely fast and efficient. CUBA enabled achievement of a truly agile approach with short development cycles and close involvement of Sainsbury's.

As the user base of the software grew, so did the requirements, leading to development of a second release in October 2016.

The Flood Risk Management Software provides the following key features:

  • Geospatial extent of all Sainsbury’s locations and their parameters, across the United Kingdom.
  • Integration of datasets of flood risk from rivers and seas from the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales, providing automated identification of levels of risk from rivers and seas for individual locations.
  • Integration Environment Agency’s Complex Surface Water Flood Risk dataset and automated identification of levels of surface water for individual locations.
  • Historical Flood dataset of Recorded Flood Outlines detailing flood events at individual locations back to 1946.
  • Integration of detailed Flood Surveyor reports for specific locations of the Sainsbury’s estate, providing expert qualifications of the levels of flood risk from rivers and seas and risk of surface water flooding, together with long and short term flood mitigation recommendations.
  • ‘Actions on’ files including guidelines of locations for the deployment of emergency flood equipment at individual stores.
  • Integration through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) of flood warning information issued by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.
  • Integration of Ordnance Survey Open Rivers dataset of over 144,000 km of watercourses, combined with the integration of over 1,400 Environment Agency River Gauges and their outputs at 15 minute intervals.
  • Integration of selected UK Meteorological Office Weather Stations, reflective of Sainsbury’s regional management structure, with weather observations integrated every hour and weather forecasts integrated every three hours, up to five days ahead.
  • Integration of UK Meteorological Office Severe Weather Warnings.
  • Integration of Social Media sources and functionality to manage and search information produced by Social Media.
  • Dashboard perspective of enduring and dynamic flood risk for all Sainsbury’s locations and live Severe Weather Alerts.
  • Unique user profile access, presenting location specific information to user’s area of geographic responsibility.
  • Functionality to record, query and analyse all flood mitigation activity, from type to costs at individual locations.
  • Functionality to record, query and analyse Flood Incidents at individual locations.
  • Functionality to determine automated alerting protocols and nominated recipients based on levels of enduring risk and real time monitoring of dynamic risk, with alerts issued by both e-mail and SMS.
  • Fully auditable alert communication history.
  • Reports creation functionality.
  • Full control of user access rights, based on roles and attributes.
  • Comprehensive storage of all user interactions with the data.
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Result

Stonehaven Technology have developed a truly comprehensive flood risk management application, enabling Sainsbury’s to plan confidently for the long term management of flood risk and know that a range of verified, critical information sources will be available come a dynamic flood risk situation. Critical management decisions can be made on a best informed basis and in a timely manner. Identified high risk of flooding stores are receiving long term flood mitigation investment, whilst pro-active measures are also taking place to enable stores to respond more dynamically to evolving flood risk situations. Across the management structure of Sainsbury’s and their facilities management company, there is a new preparedness for the challenges of extreme weather.