Beyond If Beyond If

How Innovation Drives Efficiency on Britain’s Busiest Waterway

What if we showed you how the TEAM2100 team, including Jacobs, is driving innovation at every stage of the asset lifecycle to better protect London from current and future tidal flooding?


Thames Estuary Asset Management (TEAM 2100) was set up by England’s Environment Agency to create a long-term approach to managing 330-kilometers of tidal flood defenses, comprising walls and embankments and over 400 other structures (such as flood gates, outfalls and pumps) in London and the Thames Estuary, including the iconic Thames Barrier. Jacobs is managing the first 10 years of the program.

Working in an integrated team with the Environment Agency and Balfour Beatty, our job is to inspect, refurbish and improve flood defenses along 175-kilometers of the River Thames and reduce the risk of tidal flooding to protect 1.4 million people and some £321 billion worth of property in London, Essex and Kent over the next 100 years. On a program this vital, some might call it too risky to trailblaze new technologies or apply innovations with the future of so many hanging in the balance.

The TEAM2100 program advocates a holistic approach to managing tidal flood defences, aspiring to reduce the overall costs by seeking to invest in the right places at the right time. It prioritizes investment in high-risk flood defences, and better predicts asset deterioration and intervention strategies. The program also aims to deliver greater value for public money through innovation, and greater collaboration and joint planning with the supply chain. The program has maintained its ISO55000 asset management accreditation for the last three years, reflecting a high international standard for asset management.

But what if we showed you how the TEAM2100 program team thrives on a culture of innovation, constantly searching for a better way – to deliver the best protection and value for those who live along the River Thames?

  • 1.4 M

    people who live along the River Thames and its tributaries protected

  • $ 450 B

    or more of property along the river is protected with this vital flood scheme

  • 4 K

    assets maintained throughout the estuary

  • 30 +

    years old – the average age of the current defenses. In some cases, assets are more than 100 years old

An ever-changing setting

The TEAM2100 program achieved ISO55001-certification in April 2017 and recently extended that certification for another three years to end of 2023. Tidal flood defenses need to protect London and the Thames Estuary from both a predicted rise in sea level and potentially higher and more frequent ‘storm surges’ (temporary further rises in sea level caused by certain weather conditions over the North Sea). Sea level rise in the Thames Estuary over this century could be between 20-88 centimeters.

Our work on TEAM2100 is the first of its kind on an estuary in Europe. It’s not just the scale and diversity of the river which makes managing its flood defenses challenging. The river is an ever-changing setting to work in, with a riverbed that literally shifts during the work.  Many of the defenses are over 30-years old, and in some cases over 100-years old. The investigations are providing information about the condition of individual defenses and about the system.

The effort includes design and development of an extensive flood management program — the largest program of its kind — incorporating a series of fortifications, embankments, flood gates, pumping stations, outfalls and major barriers to protect London, Essex and Kent from tidal flooding along the tidal River Thames. Continued maintenance, essential asset improvements and environmental upgrades are benefitting people and wildlife along the tidal corridor.

As the lead delivery partner, we’re responsible for refurbishing and improving the estuary’s over 4,000 different assets and developing and delivering best practice resilience asset management, at best value for the public’s money. That requires collaboration and clever use of technology to find better ways of working and achieving the best outcomes. Having the client, designer and contractor working in one team means we can make decisions together more effectively and have input into the designs at an early stage from the construction teams carrying out the works. This improves buildability, health and safety and construction efficiency.

World-class asset management

A world-class approach to asset management and how it is effectively integrated with program management is fundamental to the work underway. Within two years of program start, TEAM2100 attained ISO 55001 certification, becoming the first U.K. Government major program to achieve this recognition.

The best of Jacobs’ globally recognized program management system and the Environment Agency’s asset management tools were combined with the outputs of an 18-month plan to develop an Asset Management System (AMS) that meets the Thames Estuary needs. The service-focused AMS tackles the management of existing assets and the creation of new assets and asset systems over a 60-year life cycle period.

First-of-the-kind modelling to criticality assess assets along the whole estuary has allowed the program to start developing risk-based asset class strategies. The overarching flood risk management strategy identifies and understands some 25 asset systems, their benefits and costs, and their interdependencies to help prioritize asset management activity.

In 2018, with the help of the Water Services Association of Australia’s (WSAA) leading Asset Management Customer Value Project (AMCV), TEAM2100 used its rigorous benchmarking process to provide a better appreciation of what needs to be done to improve management performance. Used alongside auditing andintegrated with the requirements of ISO 55001, the process improved transparency and provided TEAM2100 with a holistic view of the organization, its strengths and areas for improvement.

Drone surveying technology

We're using the latest scanning and monitoring technology to view the changing nature of the river and assess the potential impact on flood defenses. Drones are deployed to fly at low-altitude along the length of the river, providing a bird’s eye view of the defenses and identifying areas that require further upgrades. They are quicker than traditional topographic survey methods and can cover approximately 2-kilometers of linear surveying per day, collecting millions of 3D data points and providing the opportunity to gain more data than ever before capturing an unobstructed view of surveyed areas with 3D topography, HD aerial photography and HD video of the estuary.

In 2018, trials of submersible and confined space drones created the potential for further progress in data collection. The submersible drones work well in controlled locations, but there is more investigation to be done to confirm their usefulness in the estuary.

Smart infrastructure

By implementing remote asset sensor technology to monitor real-time performance data on key critical assets within the Thames Estuary system, we’re able to quickly identify any performance changes and intervene to reduce whole life costs of asset management and minimize any changes in flood risk.

Portable Leica Pegasus lidar equipment is used – either from a riverboat or carried as a backpack – to run surveys at low tide, collect the data, and use it in the office when convenient. It’s particularly useful for assets that are very difficult or dangerous to access – so much safer when compared to visual inspections on foot. Pegasus makes monitoring the foreshore much more efficient; highlighting vulnerable areas before they deteriorate badly is one of the great benefits of the technology.

Data management and award-winning a culture of innovation

The team also created a web and desk-based information portal (Estuary Eye) and associated App to offer a common data environment for review, access, management and use of asset data collected and stored. The embedded videos and 3D information provide instant access to complex geospatial asset information and the tools developed enable a highly efficient approach to option and design appraisals, creating an estuary-wide BIM model of the asset system, and an easy visual assessment of live project progress. With over 100 map layers, the Estuary Eye is a data management tool, a highly effective appraisal and design tool, and an interface to a vast amount of new and historic field-collected data.

To date, the team has driven innovation from both the program and project level, helping to identify more than 300 innovations, including data management, drone technology, 3D augmented reality to safety applications, intelligent infrastructure and green infrastructure trials, setting the program up to deliver an expected £100 million in efficiency savings over the 10-year program. It also means we’re helping to define the future of asset management and flood risk management in the U.K.

Award highlights

  • Flood & Coast Excellence Awards 2020 – Digital Excellence Winner
  • Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) London 2019 Team of the Year 
  • British Construction Industry Association (BCIA) Awards 2018 Digital Transformation Initiative of the Year Award
  • Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) London 2018 Innovation Award
  • 2018 – RoSPA Silver Award
  • The Environment Agency’s 2017 Project Excellence in Innovation Award
  • Esri U.K.’s 2017 Customer Success Award for Innovation in Field Data Collection
  • Institute of Asset Management’s 2017 Project Team of the Year
  • New Civil Engineer’s 2017 Tech Fest Awards: Project Team of the Year and Innovation of the Year: Big Data
  • USA Resilience and Climate Adaption Consultant Award of the Year 2017

Interested in learning more about how Jacobs transforms intangible ideas into intelligent solutions for a more connected, sustainable world?

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