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Picking up the pieces

NSG Exemplar Award: Highly Commended – ‘Best Gazetteer Integration’ 2007: Kingston-upon-Hull City Council.

In June 2007, the city of Hull experienced unusually high rainfall over a prolonged period resulting in flooding that caused disruption and damage to more than 8,600 residential properties and over 1,300 business premises. As worried residents began calling the council to request sand bags, report blocked drains and missing manhole covers, the scale and magnitude of the situation became apparent. Communication between council departments, external agencies and the residents of Hull was paramount if the risk to life and property was to be minimised.

The council’s existing web based mapping tool was therefore modified to reflect affected roads across the city by using the unique reference number contained within the Local Street Gazetteer. This gave an easy to interpret view of the flood event both as it unfolded and during the ongoing clean up operation.


Hull City Council, through previous investment in their street gazetteer, was able to respond quickly to the unfolding emergency. The authority, as part of a commitment to provide ‘better services to citizens and a better deal for the tax payer,’ had already embedded street reference numbers within core council services and front line systems (such as their Customer Relationship Management application). Hull has also ensured that their street gazetteer is maintained to the highest level ensuring the data is up to date, geographically accurate and consistent in quality.

As reports of rising water levels on the city’s roads were received by the council’s centralised call centre, Hull Connect, they were automatically referenced using the unique street reference number from the LSG. A simple modification to the existing web based mapping portal, MyMaps, meant that effect of the flooding could be displayed in virtual real time on the council’s website.

This real time mapping of the unfolding emergency facilitated the effective deployment of limited resources, targeting the worst hit areas of the city and therefore the residents and properties most at risk. Also, by making this information readily available on the council’s website, unnecessary calls to both the council and emergency services were reduced as worried residents could track the flood effect and have confidence in the council’s awareness and knowledge of the situation. The system also enabled residents, workers and emergency teams to plan essential journeys in the days following the flood, as some roads remained closed for the pumping of floodwater.

The flood response quickly matured from an emergency incident management situation to a clearup and reinstatement operation. Using the record of flood damage generated by the online mapping system, Hull City Council was able to methodically target areas of the city most affected by the floodwater. This increased the speed with which they were able to respond and the efficiency in provision of clean up and support services.

The street level flood map was also used for post event analysis, modelling the path of the floodwater against other features and the city’s topography for the prediction and prevention of future incidents and as evidence to support the council’s application for emergency and relief funding.

Key benefits

  • Risk to life and property was managed through the effective and timely communication of flood events across the city, providing citizens and emergency response teams with real world, real time information.
  • Council and emergency service personnel were deployed where needed, targeting limited resources at the worst hit areas and identifying residents and properties most at risk from the rising flood water.
  • An accurate record of the flood event was created and maintained for use during the ongoing clear up and reinstatement operation enabling ongoing targeting of resources, grants and support and as evidence for emergency and relief funding.
  • Post event analysis was facilitated by comparing the full geometry of the affected road network against other features such as the city’s drainage system, topography, surface cover and land use, to help predict and prevent future incidents.
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