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Environment

Interactive map tracks rainfall in the Edmonton area in real time

WATCH ABOVE: The City of Edmonton has created an interactive online map that tracks how much rain different areas of the city get and its impacts. Emily Mertz explains.

EDMONTON — The City of Edmonton’s Open City Initiative and Drainage Services Branch have released a map that is able to show just how much it has rained in different parts of the city.

The map interactive map updates every 15 minutes, describes road conditions, and even reveals when people should water their lawns.

There are currently 30 different rain gauges in and around Edmonton measuring the amount and severity of rainfall in real time. The map will be updated with data gathered at these 30 locations every 15 minutes, once 2 mm of rain is collected, and will update at lower intervals when it is not raining.

The map has display icons that will change colour and size to visually depict the severity and amount of rainfall in the Edmonton area.

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“When you look at the map, you’ll see that there are two different icons for each location,” said Scott Vatcher, Senior Engineer with Drainage Services.

“There’s a box icon – what that is is the amount of rain that’s fallen in the last 24 hours. When you click on that, you can see the actual number of how much rain has fallen. Then there’s a circle icon and when you click on that, you can see the Storm Severity Rating and that will give you a description of what you can expect in your area, what that rainfall will impact on the ground,” said Vatcher.

“It’s meant to give general information about what might be happening in the area: what the rainfall means.”

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“There’s another component of the website that shows what we call ‘storm severity rating.’ It gives a qualitative description of what might be happening in that area as far as the drainage system goes,” Vatcher added.

The storm’s severity is measured on a six-point scale.

“Once you get to about Level 4, you’re looking at [a situation where] things are starting to fill up. At Level 5 and 6, you’re looking at flooding situations that may happen,” he explained.

The use of these rain gauges is not new for Drainage Services. Data has been collected at these locations since 2008 as part of an initiative to assess storms and their effects on flooding and sewer performance and design.

The initiative to map out and share the data with Edmontonians, in real time, began in January of 2015, when staff decided to work with Open City for the site.

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“This project fulfils an important city goal: enabling citizens to interact more fluidly with other citizens and with their government,” said Mark St. Martin, program manager for Open Data.

“Open City is focusing on bringing public data to citizens and sharing information faster.”

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This map provides the opportunity for someone to build apps based on the data offered on the open-data-platform.

“We’re providing the data in its raw form as well as a table, so people can go in there take that data, and build things with it,” said Vatcher.

You can find this and more interactive maps at data.edmonton.ca.