Risk of Flooding from Rivers and Sea Dataset Released as Open Data
The Environment Agency announced at the end of 2014 that it was releasing the Risk of Flooding from Rivers and Sea dataset (formerly known as the National Flood Risk Assessment dataset, NAFRA) as an open data resource. The flood data are to be made available under the Open Government Licence (OGL) and provide an indication of the likely flood risk (low, moderate or significant) from rivers and sea. The data are available to download from the data.gov.uk site and the Environment Agency also plans to publish the data on their DataShare site ASAP.
Important as this latest open data resource is, especially given the extent and severity of flooding in many parts of England last winter, the usefulness of this type of flood data is often best illustrated in combination with other datasets such as flood outlines and waste site boundaries; the factors contributing to flood risk are both complex and varied. However, many of these other datasets are not available under the same open licence agreement and are subject to restrictions on commercial use and re-sharing. This variation in licensing poses a number of issues for data analysts working to provide holistic interpretations of past trends and recent events, and potentially limits both the scope of the analysis and the audience for the results.
The release of the flood risk data under the OGL is a significant move for the Environment Agency; will this prompt the release of other related environmental datasets under the same open access licence?