The Impact Of Growing Communities On Ageing Dams | Rezatec

Urban Expansion VS Dam Safety: As communities grow, can these two co-exist?


The UN has warned that most people will live downstream of a dam by the year 2050. As infrastructure grows older and development accelerates, how can dam owners and regulators keep people safe?

As the global population expands, developers have no choice but to start building homes and commercial spaces in once-rural areas. This means new communities inevitably start to encroach on places downstream of a dam, within floodplains or breach inundation zones. When dam safety risk assessment takes place ‘on the ground’, this urban change becomes a problem. How can a dam owner or regulator know for sure if new homes or communities have ‘moved in’ when inspections occur infrequently and may take months or even years to complete? How can they ensure dams are classified correctly with the appropriate hazard rating? And ultimately, how do they keep growing communities safe from catastrophic failure? 

Dam owners and regulators often operate across vast geographical areas. Depending upon each individual dam’s risk classification, flood zone surveys might only be conducted every five years, or more. If your goal is to keep nearby communities safe from dam failure, this is a worryingly lengthy process. With urban change happening so rapidly, the chances of a new housing development or community arriving within your dam inundation area between inspections increases – and knowing where they are is critical.   

For regulators in particular, this presents significant concerns. Correct classification of dams is partially assessed by the presence of properties (and therefore people) situated within an inundation zone, and this determines the frequency of future inspections. With hundreds or even thousands of dams to keep track of and a rapidly expanding urban area, this leaves room for error and high-hazard dams might not receive the most accurate rating. 

How Technology Can Reduce Risk And Improve Dam Safety?

The good news is that while residential communities, retail outlets and offices expand at a rapid rate, so does dam monitoring technology. With intelligent Geospatial AI solutions, dam owners can consistently manage the potential risks that urban changes pose, from the comfort of their desk. Dams being inspected physically perhaps once every five years is no longer enough when urban change is happening so rapidly. With dam safety monitoring systems, data can be collected automatically, analysed regularly and constantly refreshed, meaning that even as communities continue to grow, dam regulators can stay on top of safety precautions and significantly reduce risk. 

Monitoring Urban Change With Rezatec

With the new Urban Change module from Rezatec, dam owners and regulators can monitor changes in urban development and the impact it may have on their assets using advanced Geospatial AI. The solution analyses visual satellite data from two different time periods to detect new buildings. When the flood zone or inundation area is overlaid onto the map, the technology can instantly and remotely identify urban change and communities at risk. For both dam owners and regulators, this expedites the process of monitoring changes in nearby developments, which ultimately helps to keep communities safer.

There are additional benefits when it comes to already-stretched time and financial resources. By using Rezatec’s Geospatial AI platform, engineers and managers can access data immediately and remotely, and allocate ‘boots on the ground’ to targeted or high risk areas. 

Dam owners and regulators now have alternative options when it comes to monitoring their assets and surrounding areas. Using data from above rather than relying solely on ground-based inspections, they can supercharge their technology, enhance processes and make sure new communities are identified before it’s too late.  

Book a FREE demo of Rezatec’s Geospatial AI technology today and discover how you could monitor urban change, ensure the correct classification of dams and keep communities safe. 

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