IFC-Designed Flood Information System in South Dakota Wins Award

Jackie Hartling Stolze

Iowa is a leader in flood preparedness, thanks in large part to the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) and its innovative online platform, the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS). IFIS allows Iowans to access up-to-the-minute data on river and stream levels, precipitation, flood inundation maps, and more.

Now, the IFC is sharing some of its ground-breaking technology with our neighbors in South Dakota, where the IFC-designed Big Sioux River Flood Information System (FIS) recently won the 2018 Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award from the South Dakota Engineering Society Eastern Chapter. The IFC was honored along with RESPEC and Banner Associates, the engineering firms that partnered with IFC to develop the system.

The IFC, RESPEC, and Banner Associates worked together to design FIS for the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (SD DENR). The award honors FIS for its technical expertise, ingenuity, and innovation; the system combined and improved technologies to predict floods, save lives, and mitigate damage.

The system monitors conditions in the Big Sioux River Basin in eastern South Dakota. It gives users access to near real-time flood-related data that support sound decision-making during and before flood events. Using the system, South Dakota decision-makers can predict river levels and flood inundation for a range of stream flows throughout the watershed.

IFC Researcher Ibrahim Demir, the principal architect of IFIS and the South Dakota flood information system, says that his research efforts are aimed at developing novel information interfaces, using state-of-art visualization techniques, and providing support to researchers from various disciplines to help them visualize and understand environmental observations and simulation data.

“Here at Iowa Flood Center, I have developed interactive visualizations of large, geo-spatial scientific data sets to improve the communication of flood-related observations and simulation results with the public and decision-makers,” Demir says. “I worked on the design and development of the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS), a one-stop web-platform to access community-based flood conditions, forecasts, visualizations, inundation maps and flood-related data, information, and applications. That work provided the foundation for the new online platform for South Dakota.”

Ibrahim Demir (left) demonstrates the Iowa Flood Information System for University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld.