The County of South Yorkshire in England has a history of significant flooding events. The flood risk arises from distinct aspects of the county’s topography and its network of river catchments: in its Western half, parts of the district rise to 500 metres above sea level. Its Eastern half is predominantly very low lying with an extensive area of flood plain and tidal influences. In addition, valleys to the North and West of the county contain 17 major reservoir dams, which feed into the major watercourse of the River Don. This makes the county liable to fluvial (river), pluvial (rain induced) and marine (sea) flooding caused by heavy rainfall in the catchment and tidal fluctuations and potential floods from dam failure.
The Town of Doncaster has the largest flood risk of all the communities in South Yorkshire, with records of flood events dating back to 1536. Currently 25,000 properties in Doncaster are at risk from River Don flooding. This flood risk has had a large economic, social, physical and psychological impact on citizens, especially following a large-scale flood event in 2007. A series of citizens’ flooding networks have been established. These networks aim to increase citizen understanding of flood monitoring and defense mechanisms, and communicate flood warning messages to the emergency responders and other citizens. WeSenseIt will support these communities, networks and emergency services by enabling new forms of citizen participation and by enabling a more timely and effective reaction to adverse events.
The Doncaster case study area is in between two catchments: the River Don and River Trent catchments. In addition to this geographical complexity, it is managed by two Environment Agency regions: the Yorkshire and the Midlands region. The management by the formal institutions is further divided between three Water Authorities, namely Yorkshire, Severn Trent and Anglian water authorities. It should be noted that the Anglian Water Authority only serves a very small area. The Doncaster area is further broken down into two Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (RFCC), which are Yorkshire RFCC and Midlands RFCC and eleven internal drainage boards.
The Environment Agency manages water resources and enforces water quality standards at the national level. The Environment Agency is mandated to develop and coordinate the implementation of the national flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy while Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council is charged with the responsibility of developing and coordinating implementation of the local flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy as stipulated in the Floods and Water Management Act 2010 (FWMA). Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council is the largest metropolitan borough in England and covers the area of approximately 56,000 hectares