The Environment Agency has pulled the trigger on plans for a sweeping refresh of its central data processing infrastructure, today announcing a £6 million contract for a new cloud-based telemetry system.
The agency – which falls under the authority of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) – is swapping its eight existing data crunching platforms for a single system or application hosted on Azure or AWS, but will be providing the cloud environment separately.
A public notice puts the value of the five-year contract at £6 million, with the possibility of two 12 month extensions.
Environment Agency Data
The tender comes amid ongoing modernisation of the agency’s approximately 5,500 telemetry outstations – which generate the Environment Agency data that underpins flood warning services across England.
As Defra’s Michael Lyons noted in a blog for the agency earlier this year: “These range from simple gauging devices that measure river levels, to complex control structures and pumping stations that monitor hundreds of variables.”
As part of the agency’s “Future of National Telemetry” project the Environment Agency is also upgrading its data communications infrastructure to allow cellular network IP communications between telemetry systems and the outstation network, with the aim of reducing logistical burden, system costs and improving regulatory of site polling (up to 15 minutes), he revealed in the post.
Recent contract winners as a result of the modernisation have included BT, which nabbed an IoT contract to monitor the deployment of the Environment Agency’s 1500 stillages – heavy-duty containers used to transport critical flood defence equipment around the country – and Servelec, which provides heavy duty pumps with 4G and Ethernet, connectivity, RS232 & RS485.
Environment Agency data drives its river and sea levels in England service and help it make informed decisions about potential flooding. The agency has historically communicated with most outstations twice a day, using either a physical phone line (circuit switch PSTN) or 2G network.