J35.5 A View of the City of Austin's Common Operating Picture

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 9:30 AM
Room 18A (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Baxter E. Vieux, Vieux & Associates, Inc., Norman, OK; and S. Janek, K. McArthur, J. Urquidi, M. Porcher, and J. E. Vieux

How a community organizes and operates its own flood warning system depends on its needs, combined with the availability of flood warning software with supporting functionality. The complexity of diverse information sources needed for flood management demands a high level of integration. Knowing where and when a stream will overtop its banks, or if road intersections are forecast to flood makes early warning possible, and helps protect citizens and property from flood hazards. Effectiveness of the decision support provided by such a system depends on multiple technologies with associated accuracy and reliability, ranging from radar-based precipitation estimation, detailed topography, soils and landuse, physics-based distributed hydrologic modeling of stage and flow in natural and urban watersheds.

High-resolution flood forecasting and inundation mapping is made possible by recent innovations in cloud-based flood information systems. A common operating picture assembles and integrates diverse data streams, together with hydraulic/hydrologic modeling and predictive mapping of flood inundation. Writing rules on the system helps centralize institutional knowledge about when and where flooding is expected to occur. Knowledge of the future is key to helping focus emergency response to areas where maximum flood stage is expected. In the critical period immediately after a flood, information on flooded structures and preliminary damage estimates are now possible as shown in Fig. 1. Based on inundation mapping, automated calculation of flood depths above the finished floor elevation of houses/structures preliminary damage assessment provides the basis for Federal financial assistance requests.

This presentation describes the flood warning system and common operating picture that is operational for the City of Austin Texas, Flood Early Warning System. System results from recent flood episodes will be demonstrated, thus illustrating how the system helps mitigate the challenges associated with flood emergency management when heavy rainfall intersects the urban watershed environment.

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