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5 minutes with Cameron Druery

We caught up with Cameron Druery, the Product Manager for waterRIDE, to talk about his journey to make floodplain modeling outputs accessible and easy to understand.

Mehreen Yusuf

by Mehreen Yusuf

Marketing Advisor, London

16 December 2019
5 minutes with Cam Druery

What is waterRIDETM?

waterRIDE is a software tool for the floodplain and flood emergency management industries. Its purpose is to make it easy for anyone to interrogate and understand flood models without having to be a flood modeler.

Traditionally, flood studies are delivered as static information. But the reality is, a flood is dynamic – it builds up over time. The beauty of waterRIDE is in its simplicity – it allows users to understand not only which areas will be inundated, but how these areas become affected as a flood evolves.

How did you come up with the idea for waterRIDE?

My colleague, David McConnell, was the original mastermind behind waterRIDE, which stemmed from an idea he had more than 20 years ago. As a flood engineer, he regularly found himself sitting in meetings trying to explain the technical information coming out a flood model to a non-technical audience by using paper and static maps.

"We also streamlined the more tedious tasks and added new capabilities, giving our users new insights to information they may have never been able to look at before."

In that mess of schematic figures and peak maximum plots, which only a few people understood, he thought there had to be a better way to show flood behavior and allow people to truly understand the implications of flooding. From those meetings, he started writing what would be the precursor to waterRIDE.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

What has been the journey so far?

waterRIDE started as a data visualization tool, which evolved into an interrogation and processing tool primarily used by Worley. We used it to deliver model results to clients so they could analyze the data and gain insights from the flood modeling work we were doing. In time, waterRIDE grew popular enough that we saw a potential market for it and started to sell it to other people’s clients, as well as other consultants.

"If you’re using traditional tools, the value from flood modeling gets left on the shelf and you’re just looking at static information. waterRIDE steps in and unlocks the full value of flood modeling by making dynamic, real-time information available."

Alongside the visualization aspect of waterRIDE, we began to expand its capability in areas of more specialized processing, covering a growing number of tasks carried out as part of the floodplain and flood emergency management workflow. The more tedious tasks were streamlined and augmented with new capabilities, giving users new insights they had never been able to see before.

One of the more interesting developments was our pioneering move into real-time flood forecasting. This allows users to rapidly predict the likely outcome of a flood, before it even starts raining. It has been utilized during many significant floods over the past decade and we have been particularly pleased with how well the system has performed.

In recent years, waterRIDE’s capability has evolved to include several automated processes, such as giving our council users the ability to generate flood certificates by using a range of datasets. This is becoming widely used across the industry and proving to be an important aspect of waterRIDE’s offering.

With our latest release of waterRIDE 10, we also offer data processing toolsets with centralized application and data management, in a single interface. As always, speed, simplicity, usability and efficiency continue to be key development drivers.

What were some of the biggest challenges in getting a new technology off the ground? How did you overcome these challenges?

In the early days, waterRIDE users could do and see things that nobody thought would be possible. In that sense, one of the challenges was in getting potential users to believe that our tool could do what we said it could, and that the outcomes were valuable. We overcame this by building close relationships with our clients, working alongside them on their floodplain management journey. As industry awareness of waterRIDE grew, the benefits of using it became more obvious.

We started with just one client in New South Wales and steadily grew across Australia and New Zealand. In recent years, we have expanded further afield and we now have more than 250 organizations around the world using waterRIDE.

How does waterRIDE add value to users?

Traditional GIS (geographic information system) tools are only able to provide generic access to static information, with so much of the value from flood modeling being 'left on the shelf'. waterRIDE’s floodplain management capability unlocks the full value of flood modeling by making dynamic, real-time information available.

waterRIDE has a broad set of capabilities, and is valuable to a range of end users. For example, an emergency manager will be looking for something different to a floodplain manager, who will be looking for something different to a planner. waterRIDE allows each of these people to target what they’re looking for and extract that information without needing to have a technical or flood modeling background.

As an organization's flooding data continues to grow over time, data management becomes a key task, especially given the fact that flooding datasets are massive. With waterRIDE 10, we have released our Data Manager module that contains quality control, history, versioning, archiving and data update/exchange features. This allows users to keep track of their data and its influence on certain decisions at any point in time. This is something novel, yet sorely needed across the industry as data volumes, and the reliance on these datasets, continues to grow.

How does waterRIDE keep up with current trends?

We take pride in working closely with our clients to understand their changing flood management needs. What’s more, waterRIDE developers are floodplain managers themselves. This allows us to identify shifts in the industry and the tools needed to facilitate those shifts. This is what keeps waterRIDE a relevant tool - and it also makes for interesting software development.

What future developments are in store for waterRIDE?

waterRIDE 10 was released at the end of 2019 and introduces a host of features. Our new interface is modern, clean and incredibly fast.

The tools have been arranged by workflow which makes using waterRIDE faster than ever before. And with its new Data Manager module and enterprise configuration, waterRIDE 10 cements itself as an enterprise-grade tool.

Next year we’ll also be releasing waterRIDE CLOUD, which is particularly exciting but a little 'hush hush' for now.

Watch this space!

Describe waterRIDE in three words?

Can I have four? Ultimate floodplain management tool.

What are you most excited about with waterRIDE?

I’m most excited about waterRIDE’s ability to help people truly understand their flooding problems and the associated consequences. We hope to give people the tools they need to make the best planning and management decisions that will drive a safer community, and ultimately, save lives.

 

Find out more about waterRIDE here.

 

Cameron Druery, Principal Engineer

Cameron Druery

Principal Engineer, waterRIDE, Advisian Digital

Cameron Druery is a Principal Engineer within Advisian Digital. He has 17 years’ experience in flood modelling, floodplain and flood emergency management, flood forecasting, GIS and spatial analysis and software development. His interests lie in the development of spatial software to assist in solving natural environment problems.