UK automated flood warning system issues late, false alerts

Occurred: February 2023

A new flood warning system developed by the UK government delivered warnings of floods that failed to materialise, and warnings that came after people's homes were already flooded. 

Unlike manual warnings, which are typically offered in advance by analysing digital monitoring data alongside weather forecasts, the new automated system only issues warnings when a river reaches a certain level. 

The automated alerts have far less detail than those offered by flood forecasters, according to The Guardian. The system was trialled in December 2022 as a stopgap during a period of industrial action by Environment Agency officers, and continued thereafter. 

System 🤖

Operator: Environment Agency
Developer: Environment Agency

Country: UK

Sector: Govt - environment

Purpose: Assess and predict flood risk

Technology: Deep learning; Neural network; Machine learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Safety


Research, advocacy 🧮

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: September 2023