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Preventing Flooding through Remote Water Level Management

South Holland Internal Drainage Board (SHIDB) is one of the UK’s key flood management organizations. South Holland, named so because it is in an area of low-lying land akin to Holland, is one of the UK’s principle agricultural zones; however, due to its flat landscape the district is at constant risk of flooding, making SHIDB’s work vitally important to the local community and its 60,000 residents.

SHIDB is responsible for the drainage of the 38,441 hectares of valuable fertile land sandwiched between the rivers Welland and Nene. In particular, they maintain sixteen pumping stations and seven tidally controlled gravity sluices connected to a network of 704 kilometres of drainage channel.

SHIDB engaged Cougar Automation, a systems integrator specialising primarily in the water treatment business, to install a monitoring system that would control 16 unmanned remote pumping stations of varying sizes in the South Holland district of Lincolnshire, from their central office at Holbeach. Cougar turned to Digi International, whose mobile routing technology is now playing a major role in assisting SHIDB in water-level management.

Ease of Deployment
Phase One of the deployment, completed in November 2008, saw the Digi TransPort DR routers being used for both fixed line and mobile communications. While BT broadband connections have been deployed where possible, mobile networks are being used in the form of dual Vodafone and T-Mobile SIM cards in some remote locations for failover. Industrial wireless access points at select sites ensure that engineers can access the pumping stations during bad weather. Each pumping station has automatic controls – telemetry – for central monitoring and an alarm system to detect fixed-line failure.

Transmitting data every 10-15 seconds, Digi TransPort routers not only enable SHIDB to monitor the district’s water levels and status of each site’s equipment in real-time, but also permit the engineers to remotely switch pumps on and off, and adjust target water levels and pump sequences. SHIDB can easily scan and assess a site from the central office before making the decision whether or not to dispatch a team to deal with any issues.

Cougar Automation configured SHIDB’s telemetry system to allow the Digi TransPort routers to establish a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunnel back to the master router from each remote location. Some sites are also equipped with an IP camera that feeds images back to the office via the Digi TransPort device. This function gives SHIDB real-time visual images of water levels, acting as a valuable intruder detection system and safety monitoring device when engineers need to remotely control pumps on an automatic basis.

“CCTV gives SHIDB much needed visibility as well as control over South Holland’s drainage network, permitting engineers to monitor each site closely without impacting on manpower,” said Stuart Gaunt, principal project engineer at Cougar Automation.

Looking to the Future
Phase Two of the Digi deployment will include specialized features to allow SHIDB to archive water levels and pump run hours, as well as any action taken by the engineers, for hydrological modelling purposes. Such functionality will allow SHIDB and other internal drainage boards to compare and contrast rainfall in the district with the amount of water discharged from the catchment area, among other details.

The Results
Digi TransPort’s cellular technology, coupled with Cougar Automation’s advanced telecommunications systems, allow SHIDB to guarantee an even more efficient management of water levels, ensuring that continuous and effective actions are being taken to reduce risk of flooding.

“The South Holland district is a key area for the UK economy, and the local community –over 60,000 residents – depends on us to prevent permanent flooding and water logging” explains Karl Vines, SHIDB district engineer. “Thanks to Digi TransPort routers, we are now able to prioritize and deal with potential issues before they arise, as well as allocate man power accordingly. In this way, our engineers will always be in the right place at the right time.”
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“Thanks to Digi TransPort routers, we are now able to prioritize situations and deal with potential issues before they arise...”

- Karl Vines, SHIDB District Engineer

Application: Telemetry mobile routing systems

Industry: Water-level management

Company: South Holland Internal Drainage Board

Challenge: SHIDB needed a reliable monitoring system to control 16 unmanned pumping stations and seven tidally controlled gravity sluices.

The Solution: Digi TransPort DR router coupled with Cougar Automation’s advanced Telecommunications provides instant failover in the event of downtime.

More about Digi TransPort DR
The Digi TransPort DR is an all-in-one router combining everything remote sites and devices need to ensure maximum network uptime. The router can automatically detect broadband service issues and seamlessly switch over to HSDPA or 3G networks in the event of a failure. Furthermore, the DR6410 model contains dual SIM card slots, giving end-users the ability to use two independent mobile networks as backup.

    Key Features:
  • Instant wireless failover in the event of broadband failure
  • Real-time technology
  • Easy to deploy
  • Remote management software for large installations
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