You can now monitor severe weather impacts on your local area, based on a system originally created by Kent County Council.
The Council developed the Severe Weather Impacts Monitoring System (SWIMS) in order to provide an online database for the collection of information and impacts relating to severe weather events.
SWIMS helps to identify key risks and priority areas for intervention, and by providing cost information it supports a business case for action.
In practice, SWIMS has led to better informed business and resilience planning. Having identified about £800,000 in weather costs during the past year from low temperatures alone, Kent has used the information from SWIMS to change aspects of its Highways service provision in order to work more efficiently. Aside from cost information, users can record locations affected (e.g. number of properties), duration of service disruption, numbers of service and emergency calls, and their own responses to the effects of extreme weather.
What are the SWIMS benefits?
SWIMS offers multiple benefits, including:
– Capturing data on how severe weather affects your service: SWIMS is intended as a decision-support tool. By using SWIMS services can record how they are impacted by severe weather and how they are responding to severe weather to build up a clear picture of their vulnerability to these events.
– Building a robust evidence base (including costs): SWIMS captures costs and clean data (not story telling). This allows teams to build up a clear and robust evidence base to inform risk management and develop effective business cases to demonstrate where services or funding may be needed into the future, as events become more common place.
– Generating severe weather summary reports: Users can produce a report for their whole organisation on how it has been impacted by and responded to severe weather, highlighting areas of good practice and any common barriers to allow teams to learn from each other’s experiences and co-ordinate efforts to address vulnerability in partnership and make longer-term cost savings.
– Identifying thresholds: SWIMS helps identify pinch points where severe weather causes actual disruption, e.g. how much rain before a major road floods, or how many days at what temperature before a road melts. Costs can be derived, and then this information can be used to interrogate climate projections and build a picture of future costs that might be avoided.
Register your council to use SWIMS
Any local partnership can set up its own admin centre and have responsibility for sign-up and support in their area. The system can then be run for each partnership, with a county or unitary council acting as a central “hub.” A local partnership might include local councils (and their services and directorates), resilience forums, utilities, community groups, local businesses, and other partners.
Each partner is represented on the system and can contribute information about weather impacts as services are affected. Climate UK has been working to make SWIMS available and free of charge to all councils wishing to use it. Councils starting out with SWIMS receive guidance notes and a series of brief webinars about how to use the system.
To sign up as a participating council, interested council officers should contact Kristen Guida at firstname.lastname@example.org.