6 August 2018

Artificial Intelligence can reduce urban flooding

Urban flooding can now be managed much more effectively, thanks to a smart Artificial Intelligence-based technology called CENTAUR™.

A road flooding

This technology was recently awarded the ‘Most Innovative New Technology of the Year’ at the 2018 Water Industry Awards, a prestigious event that celebrates and rewards outstanding achievement and innovation in the UK water industry.

One of the most widespread impacts of climate change will be the increased frequency and severity of urban flooding due to peaked storms with intense rainfall.

This has the potential to impact thousands of EU citizens. CENTAUR has been designed in response to the need to reduce flooding in increasingly crowded urban areas.


Making our urban drainage networks smarter means that we can get better flood protection from essentially the same infrastructure. Installing the system does not require major infrastructure change. It is easily installed and maintained, and there are multiple fail-safes to ensure the system reduces risk and increases resilience to flooding.

Prof. Simon Tait

Professor of Water Engineering


CENTAUR intelligently utilises the existing storage capacity within wastewater systems. During periods of intense rainfall, these systems can overflow because their local capacity is exceeded.

The system measures the level at key points within a wastewater network and communicates this information via a proprietary radio protocol to the CENTAUR Hub.

The Hub uses an Artificial Intelligence algorithm to instruct a gate to effectively manage and utilise capacity that exists within the network.


CENTAUR is a truly disruptive technology and we wanted to pitch it against the best the industry has to offer. This recognition from the UK water industry is an incredible accolade, and EMS and the CENTAUR team are thrilled to have received this award in such a competitive category.

Professor Pete Skipworth

Managing Director of EMS


The project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and the technology was developed by a consortium including scientists and engineers from Environmental Monitoring Solutions (EMS) the University of Sheffield, the University of Coimbra, EAWAG (Zurich), Steinhardt GmbH, Veolia and Águas de Coimbra. 


The system has been successfully working in Coimbra, managing peak flows and reducing flood risk in an important area of the city. Through utilising existing storage capacity within the wastewater network, the volume is retained during periods of intense rainfall and only discharged once the flow has reduced downstream.

Telmo Paula

Águas de Coimbra


Installing the system does not require major infrastructure change. It is easily installed and maintained, and there are multiple fail-safes to ensure the system reduces risk and increases resilience to flooding.

Portuguese municipal water company, Águas de Coimbra, is currently trialling the system in Coimbra, where it is contributing to local flood protection.

EMS has specified CENTAUR for applications globally to address flooding issues, pollution from CSO spills and to manage flows into wastewater treatment works.

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