UK Environment Agency Study Confirms Leading Capabilities of InfoWorks ICM

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August 20, 2013 | Innovyze staff

Infoworks ICM has successfully completed the UK Environment Agency 2D Benchmarking study which comprised of an independent review of 18 existing hydrodynamic softwares.

What did the project deliver?

Over the last year the Environment Agency has been working closely with both Flood and Coastal Risk Management (FCRM) community and Professor Gary Pender (Heriot Watt University) to assess the latest generation of 2D hydraulic models for FCRM purposes and sketching out options for updating it in future.

2D hydraulic flood models are a vital tool in assessing flood risk and the effects of interventions. They support many vital applications including flood mapping, wider risk assessment and appraisal of options as well as supporting the design of structural measures such as flood defences.

This research produced up-to-date evidence of which hydraulic modelling packages are suitable for which types of flood risk management modelling applications so that Environment Agency operational teams and practitioners can apply available flood modelling tools with confidence. It also promotes continuous improvement in the flood model developer community and has helped to raise modelling capabilities and standards.

How can I use this research?

This work is the result of close partnership working between the FCRM community and model developers to deliver sound, innovative and practically relevant R&D to enable practitioners to use flood models with confidence.

Its open and transparent approach has been immensely successful and attracted interest from all over the world. Commercial model developers and academics alike have referred to these standard benchmarking tests to assess the performance of new emerging 2D model formulations. The work has also fostered continuous improvement in the flood model developer community by raising modelling capabilities and standards.

The Environment Agency may use the results from this study to help decide which models and model types are suitable for its own purposes. The results within the technical report, alongside other information from software developers, may also help other users of 2D modelling tools make their own decisions about whether any software is fit for their purposes.

What reports are available?

You can download the Research Summary and Research Report from the Environment Agency’s R&D project page:

How did Infoworks ICM Do?

Of the 18 hydraulic modelling software which were benchmarked as part of the review, Infoworks ICM was 1 of 5 which was successfully applied to all 8 tests. Of these 5 software, Infoworks ICM was the only software which was able to utilise GPU technology for all tests (including 1D-2D linkages) to significantly speed up 2D run times. The eight tests detailed in the current report were designed to show the suitability of software solutions to the agency’s common flooding applications, including: Large Scale Flood Risk Mapping, Catchment Flood Management Planning, Flood Risk Assessment and Detailed Flood Mapping, Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, Flood Hazard Mapping, Contingency Planning for Real Time Flood Risk Management, and Reservoir Inundation Mapping. The conclusion from the benchmark tests was that Infoworks ICM produced comparable predictions of water levels and velocity accross the full range of tests and is applicable accross the full range of Environment Agency flood risk modelling requirements. The run times were also comparable with more simplified reduced-terms hydraulic modelling software.

The Infoworks ICM 2D component is a finite-volume, explicit solver which solves the shallow water equations across a flexible, irregular mesh. This allows Infoworks ICM to calculate complex 2-Dimensionsal flow routes quickly and accurately in areas of complex and varying topography. The solver is fully conservative and shock-capturing, so can deal with any changes in the flow regime which means that Infoworks ICM is particularly suitable for the simulation of rapidly varied flows, such as those occurring in typical flood events.

The robust and quick 2D hydrodynamic simulation engine is only one part of the integrated functionality which Infoworks ICM offers within a single User-Interface. With full 1D hydraulic capabilities for piped networks and river networks to represent above- and below ground systems, integrated hydrology modelling and water quality functionality across all modelling domains, Infoworks ICM can offer a range of functionality for multiple uses which a hydraulic modeller may be tasked. The 2D engine is also used in the Infoworks CS 2D and Infoworks RS 2d software.

Continuing Development of Infoworks ICM

The benchmarking study tests were carried out in early 2012 using Infoworks ICM version 2.5.2. Since then, Innovyze have continued to develop the Infoworks ICM product with 3 full versions released since the version 2.5.2. The current release version of Infoworks ICM is version 4.0.1. This continued development has seen additional functionality added to Infoworks ICM including improved initialisation process, terrain-sensitive meshing, new 2-Dimensional structures, breach modelling capabilities and further speed gains in the 1D engine to further enhance the user experience of Infoworks ICM and which all would further enhance the performance of Infoworks ICM in the EA 2D Benchmarking tests. Other developed functionality includes new water quality capabilities, new network results objects, addition of the Probability Distributed Model hydrological model and new Time-Series Database functionality.

Innovyze have reproduced the benchmark tests in the current release of Infoworks ICM (version 4) utilising some of the additional functionality to improve results. Table 1 presents the updated simulation times for the 8 tests. Test 7 was reproduced using new 2D Linear Structure functionaility developed since the EA benchmarking study tests and showed more consistent results in the 2D domain as expected.

Table showing computation times

Table 1: Computational Times (in seconds unless stated) for the 8 Benchmarking Tests. Runs were undertaken on Intel Xeon E5645 2.4GHz processor with an NVidia Tesla C2050 3GB GPU card. The original benchmarking runs were carried out in Infoworks ICM 2.5. The tests have been reproduced for the current release version of Infoworks ICM, version 4.0 and show a reduction in simulation times. Average simulation times have been calculated from the EA “Benchmarking the latest generation of 2D hydraulic flood modelling packages” published report.

How can I find out more?

If you would like further information from the Environment Agency about the ‘Benchmarking the latest generation of 2D hydraulic models for FCRM purposes’ please contact Stefan Laeger on or Bethan Flynn on

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Tags: Environment Agency, computation time, benchmark, 2D modeling

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Innovyze staff

Innovyze staff

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