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Q&A: Joe Pierce, Senior Hydroinformatics Developer

We’re getting to know members of the Flood Modeller team! Hear from Joe Pierce, a Senior Hydroinformatics Developer here at Jacobs, as he discusses his role within the Flood Modeller team, and how he is helping change the software for the future.

Tell us about yourself and what you do at Jacobs?

I’m a Senior Developer in Hydroinformatics at Jacobs – I’ve been in this role for a year now and it’s an exciting team to be involved in. Within Hydroinformatics, my work focuses on applying programming and other technologies to Water and Flood Risk problems. Before Jacobs, my background was in hydraulic modelling (using Flood Modeller!), hydrology and GIS.

How did you become a developer for Flood Modeller?

I actually sit outside of the core Flood Modeller team, but around the start of 2021 I proposed an idea to the Flood Modeller team creating a package in python to help users automate parts of their workflow in Flood Modeller. After ironing out the details, I started work on developing the upcoming Flood Modeller Python API!

How long have you worked in flood risk?

I started my career as a graduate hydraulic modeller around 5 years ago, and worked mostly on flood mapping projects for the Environment Agency, Highways England and local councils. Throughout my role as a hydraulic modeller I also got involved with hydrological analysis and GIS, and so naturally working with lots of data. Before my move to Jacobs, I spent a year seconded into Natural Resources Wales as a flood risk advisor, where I got some exposure to how public sector clients work, which was a great experience.

What do you think has been the biggest change to the software since your involvement?

If you include my involvement before Jacobs using the software as a modeller, I think the biggest change to Flood Modeller is perhaps the move away from focussing on just 1D river and 2D surface water hydraulics and becoming a fully integrated catchment modelling solution, which now allows you to incorporate and model urban drainage systems.

You recently led the development of Flood Modeller’s API – how can this help our users?

The Flood Modeller Python API is an open-source python package which allows you to interact with Flood Modeller input and output files in an entirely different way than through the main software interface. With a little knowledge of python, users can use the API to automate certain tasks or build custom tools that work with Flood Modeller data. Building it this way, as opposed to single ready-to-use tools, it really puts the power into the hands of users and opens the door to endless potential use-cases!

Which additions and updates to Flood Modeller do you think will be the most important in the next 5 years?

Being biased – I am looking forward to seeing the API develop further and start to include functionality for working with 2D and urban models. But with this, the more exciting part is seeing the growth of programming and automation within the flood risk industry which will happen over the next 5 years.

If you're not in the office, what would we most likely find you doing?

I have a very energetic dog so you’d probably find me out on a walk with her in the Peaks!

What do you enjoy most about being part of Jacobs?

As well as being able to work on exciting and innovative projects, Jacobs is a great company when it comes to looking after its staff from a wellbeing perspective.


Looking for a role in flood risk management or software development?

Our water catchment management disciplines are keen to hear from you!

Check out the various opportunities online.


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