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Flood Digital Dragons: Going from the Pitch to Prototype

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'Digital Dragons' at the Flood and Coast Event 2019
'Digital Dragons' at the Flood and Coast 2019 Event

We had some super pitches to us as ‘Digital Dragons’ in the ‘Pitch to Prototype’ session (at the Flood and Coast 2019 event). So what next?

So what made the ideas so great?

The innovative digital ideas were a real mixture - from online education tools that cleverly engaged people (particularly children), and warning and modelling tools, to incident and asset management tools.

They were developed by a range of organisations from start-ups to international giants.

Here’s a quick glance at each of the digital pitches.

Online strategic water game - DHI UK

An online game that engages and educates young people, encouraging them to explore the balance between water and the environment. Aiming to test decision-making skills, encourage them to protect communities from flooding, adapt to more frequent and powerful storms, and learn from their mistakes, without getting their feet wet…

Find out more about DHI UK:

Flood hazard awareness tool - National Oceangraphy Centre

A children’s digital communication tool that teaches about coastal hazard management and the socio-economic impacts of flooding. Using Lego, water pistols and digital sensors, the tool highlights how depth changes of water in a tank triggers sensors, to reflect a scaled graphical display relative to sea level projections and depth-damage curves.

Find out more about National Oceangraphy Centre:

Flood warning virtual assistant - Capgemini UK

A digital virtual assistant that will provide real-time flood warning information to people through various channels, and automatically alert them of any potential imminent dangers. This aims to help people improve their chances of mitigating flood risks and if necessary, also provide them with direction to the nearest rescue point/ hospital/ police station.

Find out more about Capgemini UK:

Asset and incident management tool - Black & Veatch

A digital tool that uses live and predictive data, along with asset management analytics, to provide flood management equipment managers, operators and incident teams, with information about the probability of failure of flood equipment. It also suggests when rehab/ replacement schedules should or will be undertaken on the equipment.

Find out more about Black & Veatch:

Deterministic and artificial intelligence modelling tool - Viridian logic

A modelling tool that uses standard, deterministic and hydraulic methods to highlight the best natural solutions to flooding and water quality. By ranking options based on the impact they will deliver, it will allow holistic flood planning and inform decision making by flood management teams.

Find out more about Viridian Logic:

Was it hard to judge the ideas?

As we predicted, being a 'Digital Dragon' was a very difficult role - much harder than I expected! The pitching teams only had 2 minutes to convince us as to why they should win.

It is very hard to get across all the necessary information around make-up, benefits and cost analysis etc of a prototype in that timeframe, to help us make a truly informed decision.

Thankfully the audience had the deciding vote - after our questioning, they then voted on the Flood app deciding whether or not each potential idea was worthy of being a winner or not.

So which pitch won in the end?

It was a very close call between the top 2 pitches. But the one that pipped the top post was the asset and incident management digital tool, by Black & Veatch.

I think that people probably voted for that one as it has the potential to provide lots of benefits at scale. Both to teams across the whole flood management and incident response arena, as well as potentially being widened out and developed further, so that other public sector bodies and industries, including healthcare, can benefit from it in the future.

'Digital Dragons' with the 'Pitch and Prototype' winner - Black and Veatch
'Digital Dragons' with the 'Pitch and Prototype' session winner - Black & Veatch

So what happens next?

Black & Veatch as the winning organisation will be invited to work alongside the digital flood management teams at the Environment Agency to develop their idea into a prototype, and then from there, hopefully roll out a fully functioning digital tool within the next year.

Catherine Wright (@MoretonBack1) and I (as Digital Dragons, and Defra and Environment Agency Digital leads) will be keeping a close eye on the development of the prototype over the coming months – it will be fascinating to see it become a reality. I will also be watching the other 4 organisations too, because to be honest, all of their ideas are fantastic and have real value.

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