Triton was developed with Clive Powis of Plan B UK Limited, on behalf of the Welsh region of the UK Environment Agency, to support hour-by-hour tidal flood forecasting. Every few minutes, Triton collects data from a remote MS-Access database, describing the nature of tide, wind and wave for a handful of key locations. This data covers about two days around the current time.
Triton puts this data into an Excel™ spreadsheet and invokes a set of carefully prepared rules to test for high-risk combinations of conditions. For example, on a west facing coast, if the wind and wave direction is from the west at about the same time as high tide, the likelihood of flooding is great. Also, the rules must allow for local features such as a protective sand bar, a low sea-defense wall, or properties close to the coast.
If any of the alarm conditions are met, Triton alerts the operators by sounds and/or flashing the screen. It also automatically saves the Excel™ sheet, with the data and the rules, for later analysis. Research constantly fine tunes the rules to improve the timing and reliability of future flood alerts.
These calculations were previously conducted manually, at expense of time, accuracy and effort. Automatic calculation by Triton can continue efficiently, 24 hours a day. This frees the hydrographers to consider development of prediction rules.
It had been proposed that bespoke software should be developed to run the models. However, by coding the rules in Excel™, change is easy via a familiar office application, with immediate feedback. Triton provides the functions of user-interface, database retrieval and automatic supervisor. In other words, the software leaves the hydrological intelligence exposed for the experts to manipulate, while it takes over all the chores which can be automated.