Environment Agency Flood Maps data

Your name: 
Guy Shrubsole
Organisation type: 
Voluntary sector or not-for-profit organisation
Organisation name: 
Friends of the Earth
Issue type: 
Data is not published
Further detail: 
The EA flood maps are viewable on their website (http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/37837.aspx) but the info can only be seen if you zoom in to a very small localised area; no overview of the country or regions is possible. The EA's DataShare site does not make the underlying data on flood maps available for download: only viewable in an OGC WMS format on GIS software that needs to be itself downloaded. This severely limits its accessibility and utility. Clearly the best option would be to make this data downloadable in a KML format so as to be compatible with Google Fusion Tables and Google Maps, thereby allowing high accessibility and utility.
Suggested use: 
Community Work
Data holder: 
Environment Agency
Further detail: 
Make awareness and understanding of flood risk much more widely appreciated. If the data were released in a format compatible with Google Maps / Fusion Tables I would combine it with data on Local Authority and Constituency boundaries, thus better informing LA's, MPs and their constituents of the flood risks in their areas of jurisdiction / where they live. I wish to build a crowdsourced site that would bring together this information with details of local climate adaptation plans and flood risk plans so that communities can become more aware of, and more engaged in, preparations for flooding in their areas.
Benefits overview: 
Every home occupant in the country ought to have a right to know whether their home is at risk of flooding. The EA's existing maps go some way towards enabling this but their very limited accessibility constrains the numbers of people who will ever view and make use of this information. By making the data accessible in the ways suggested above would far better inform Local Authorities, MPs., businesses and constituents of local flood risks, increase participation in shared plans to combat flood risk, and lead to better decision making.
Are you able to provide estimates?: 
Publication preference: 
Request is public.
Review status: 
Escalated due to quality/format issue
Data set description: 
The data underpinning the Environment Agency's Flood Maps, showing areas at flood risk from river & sea flooding (and pluvial flooding is apparently forthcoming). Maps are only viewable on the EA's website for small sections of the country at any one time. The underlying data is not available for download by the public, only by other govt depts.
Data themes: 
Have you faced challenges in accessing this data?: 
The data is published but not in a format I can download and use (e.g. only displayed onscreen or only downloadable as a PDF rather than CVS)


Environment Agency flood risk data

Hi Guy,

I broadly support this data request. I agree the Environment Agency (and Cadw in respect of Wales) should release their flood risk mapping data in bulk under an open licence (ideally the Open Government Licence).

Most of the EA's flood data assets have already been "productised" and are shared within the public sector, as well as with insurers and other licensees on commercial tems. (The EA's Information for Re-use Register contains more details on individual datasets.)

Jeff Owen has previously made a similar data request. The status of that request suggests the ODUG may already be working on a business case for EA flood risk data, though I don't think they have published anything yet.

A couple of comments on the specifics in your request:

  • The EA have said they plan to replace the Flood Map on their website as the main source of information on flooding from rivers and the sea with a map based on National Flood Risk Assessment (NaFRA) data. They also plan to add mapping for surface water flood risk. Both initiatives should be rolled out by the end of this year. I therefore think we should argue for release of a package of flood risk data that prioritises NaFRA, along with surface water mapping, flood defences, historical flood outlines and possibly also modelled extents for reservoir flooding. If the Flood Map dataset itself is not going to be maintained in future then I think that will be less of a priority for open data release.
  • I would question the practicality of requiring the EA to release national flood risk datasets in formats that are directly compatible with Google Maps and Fusion Tables, i.e. KML/KMZ. We are talking about a substantial amount of spatial data; there are sound reasons why the datasets are normally distributed in GIS formats such as shapefile. I would suggest that the EA should release the datasets in the formats currently used for public sector distribution, and users can then convert local areas of data into other formats for use on the web (or in applications, etc.) depending on what is most suitable for their particular purpose.

-- Owen Boswarva, 26/07/2013

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Environment Agency Flood Data

The Environment Agency’s Flood Map is freely accessible to view via our “What’s in your backyard?” service (http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/37793.aspx).  The service does indeed limit the scale at which Flood Map is visible (between 1:300,000 and 1:10,000; equivalent to approx. half the area of a county, down to a postcode district).  The purpose for this is not to limit access to the information but to display the mapping at suitable scales for visualisation, i.e. at the smallest scale the data is still visible in the context of the background mapping, and at the largest scale the maps do not infer a level of accuracy greater than is present.

Flood Map is also available to view via data.gov.uk.  Using the preview on map service users can visualise Flood Map for the whole country.  Simply, click ‘Preview on Map’ from the Flood Map metadata record: http://data.gov.uk/dataset/flood-map-flood-zone-3-wms and switch on ‘Flood Map – Flood Zones 2’ and ‘Flood Map – Flood Zones 3’.  Please note, as above we do not recommend visualising the data at this scale as it is impossible to discern appropriate levels of detail/context.

In addition to the above visualisation services Flood Map is also available to the public (as well as Government and our professional and commercial partners) via our DataShare portal (http://www.geostore.com/environment-agency).  It is available as an OGC compliant Web Map Service (WMS) or Web Feature Service (WFS) – simply copy and paste the url into any compatible GIS software, or indeed Google Earth, to view the data.  All three methods provide access to full country coverage of the data. 

To obtain a (free) licence to use the WMS/WFS within your own (non-commercial) website please contact data.info@environment-agency.gov.uk.  Please note - we strongly recommend use of a WMS to ensure the data remains current (as it is regularly updated).

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Environment Agency Flood Data


Thanks for your note. This data request is about open data release of the underlying bulk datasets. Public view access to the EA's Flood Map, for applications where that is a viable approach, is not really at issue. However it's useful to have the links for reference.

-- Owen Boswarva, 29/07/2013

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Not a "quality/format issue"

The status assigned to this request is clearly wrong. The dataset is not available for re-use as open data.

Environment Agency flood mapping data has substantial potential to deliver both economic and social benefits. The barrier to open data release is not simply a "quality/format issue". On the contrary, as the data is available for licensing on commercial terms it has already been quality-approved and packaged for re-use; the quality and format are both fine.

-- Owen Boswarva, 06/09/2013

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