Young Engineers
Bus stations, stormwater and flood warnings attracted the attention of our young engineers.
Carrie Dearnley
Flood Decision Support System Senior Flood Engineer, BMT WBM, BE (Environmental), University of Queensland

Flood Engineer Carrie Dearnley found, when working alongside local councils and the State Emergency Services (SES), there was a large communication gap between agencies involved in flood planning and those involved in emergency response. Working collaboratively with various stakeholders, she developed a range of tools to close the communication gap and provide the SES and other emergency response agencies with critical information relating to flood consequences. The tools, now referred to as FloodIntel, provide a ‘value-add’ to the existing flood forecasts being provided by the Bureau of Meteorology and are being rolled out to councils in New South Wales and Queensland.

During flood response operations, emergency responders, in particular the State Emergency Services, have limited access to information. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) provides forecasted flood levels and approximate timing of the flood peak at various locations, however, the community and emergency responders have little information to relate the forecast to actual fl ood conditions. Dearnley’s innovation is an intuitive system that provides the emergency responders with access to the existing information previously prepared for planning purposes.

Using a web-based interface, an untrained operator can log in and intuitively see the extents of flooding at that time, including properties, schools and medical facilities that are affected, and the flood status of evacuation routes. The operator can also see how the situation will change as the flood waters continue to rise or fall. The decision support system provides the operator with guidance on consequences of flooding, as well as actions required to be undertaken.

Additional scenarios can be tested to assess the consequences should official flood forecasts be underestimated, thereby providing the emergency responders with all the information needed to safeguard the community. It is also able to trigger SMS and email alerts when thresholds are exceeded.

Dan Copelin
Virtual Pipes Civil Engineer (Surface water), GHD, BE (Civil), University of Queensland

Understanding how a stormwater system will behave during a flood is crucial to managing flood risk. Using traditional methods to model large areas with complicated fl ow paths takes a lot of time, money and data. Effective management of flood risk requires a detailed understanding of riverine flooding, creek flooding, overland fl ow, and surcharge from stormwater networks. Dan Copelin led the development of an alternative simulation approach that uses TUFLOW soft ware, GHD’s capabilities in hydrology, hydrodynamics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), game engine/graphics cards and high processing capability computers.

The result is ‘Virtual Pipes’, a new method of cost-effectively simulating stormwater overland flows on a large urban scale in high-detail 2D models. The modelling can be carried out rapidly with relatively low data requirements. It enables government authorities to identify flooding problem areas, test infrastructure upgrades and improve land use planning. It has been used to assist Brisbane City Council, Christchurch City Council and the State of Qatar, and has potential for other cities globally.

Virtual Pipes provides a simplified approach to modelling stormflows with greatly reduced data and time requirements, and much faster modelling speed compared to traditional approaches. Instead of modelling stormwater systems in full, the model represents only the inlets and outlets (as ‘points’) in TUFLOW soft ware. Flows captured at the inlet are transferred to the outlet within the model, creating a ‘virtual pipe’, which significantly reduces the time required to represent a stormwater network.

Leveraging the power of game engines and graphics cards, and GHD’s bank of 20 high processing capability computers, Virtual Pipes can model an entire city for the same cost it would take to do a single catchment using traditional methods. This approach was used to model a 1000 km2 local government area, including a stormwater network that comprises more than 200,000 pipes and pits. As part of the project, the outputs were compared to the results of a traditional modelling approach and the comparison showed very close results for flood depths and peak discharge rates.

Elliot Alfirevich
Laser Boost Commuter Comfort Electrical Project Engineer, Wood & Grieve, BE (Electrical), University of Western Australia

Perth’s new Busport has been designed to provide airport lounge comfort for bus passengers in the centre of the city. One design requirement was to minimise fumes from the buses in the lounge area so the automatic doors from the lounge to each of the 16 bus stands need only open when the bus was ready for passengers to board.

Elliot Alfirevich developed a bespoke solution to this problem: a laser scanner which determines the dimensions of the bus as it pulls in front of the public lounge area and opens the lounge doors only when the bus doors are opened by the driver. His idea was a laser scanner that sits at the top of the lounge door, which spins into a 2D image to look for the side of the bus door and measures the distance between the bus door and the lounge door. When aligned, the system triggers the lounge door to open. When a bus has not arrived in position, the doors will not respond to passengers trying to enter the Bus Circulation Zone (BCZ) from the lounge, but the doors will remain active for free-entry from the BCZ to enable drivers/passengers to enter the lounge.

Other stations with standard motion sensors on each door between the passenger lounge and the busway, can cause a number of motion sensors to activate different doors unnecessarily as buses move through the station. Benefits of Alfirevich’s design include: considerably less pollutants entering the passenger lounge; air conditioning temperatures maintained; and reduced operating expenditure due to reduced energy consumption and reduced cleaning needed to remove airborne particles.

Alfirevich used an iterative design process to develop the algorithms which are implemented into the laser scanner in order to search for specifi c objects. A prototype was developed and trialled, followed by live trials.