Topcon helps Caintech gain a better picture of flooding defence failures

In 2015, flooding devastated the North West of England after ‘Storm Desmond’ brought a record level of rainfall, affecting much of Cumbria and leaving 45,000 homes without power.

The town of Cockermouth in Cumbria was flooded for the third time after defences put up following previous disasters in 2009 and 2013 failed. It was estimated that between 400-700 homes and businesses were ruined, causing disruption and devastating the lives of a community hoping to put the floods behind them. 

To help prevent this from happening again, authorities managing the flood defences needed to find out quickly why they had failed.  A week after the 2015 flooding, Caintech – a land surveying company specialising in topographic, bathymetric and laser scan surveys – was tasked with completing an aerial survey of the area.

Caintech immediately approached the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to gain permission to fly its Topcon Sirius Pro UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) in the area. Within an hour the CAA had granted Caintech permission to fly the UAS directly above the flood zone and 1km from the pilot, double the distance of standard permissions. Without these extra distance permissions, Caintech wouldn’t have been able to land the UAS safely due to the size of the flooded area.

By using the Sirius Pro, Caintech was able to survey all areas of the flooding, ensuring the team could build up a complete picture of the affected area. The Sirius Pro, is Topcon’s original fixed-wing UAS and surveys to a high degree of accuracy across demanding areas. Its built-in navigation system (RTK GPS) also eliminates the need for ground control points, making it ideal for challenging projects like Caintech’s.

Using the Sirius Pro instead of traditional methods gives Caintech quick and efficient results, along with cost savings. Without UAS, this particular project would have taken five to six weeks to complete on the ground with a cost of around £12,000. In reality it took around two and a half hours and provided Caintech’s client with more sophisticated, accurate and refined data.

Cranfield University and Ambiental Ltd, a flood risk assessment agency, had the data just 36 hours after the project was completed. This meant that improved flooding prevention technology could be applied to the area quickly, with the hope that it could stop this from causing disruption to the community again.

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