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FloodMapp provides whole-of-state live flood impact

Supporting critical infrastructure operators during disasters.

FloodMapp CEO and Co-Founder Juliette Murphy recently visited the TECCH to talk through the outcomes of the integration with the TfNSW team.

The transport system keeps a town, state or country alive and moving and is vital to reconnect isolated communities during a disaster. Just like energy networks and hospitals, transportation is critical infrastructure and it has a significant role to play during a disaster – providing the means for communities to evacuate, for emergency services to respond and for resources to be distributed. During a flood disaster, transport is at the centre of effective preparation, response and recovery, and up-to-date information is critical to decision making.

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Background

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Transport for NSW (Transport) is the lead authority that governs NSW’s transport system and it has developed an innovative emergency operations centre and disaster dashboard to provide situational awareness and a common operating picture (CoP) across the organisation and associated disaster management stakeholders. Transport partnered with FloodMapp to bring live flood intelligence into a dashboard, alongside critical asset data such as major roads, railways, public transport routes, bridges, causeways and maritime assets. 

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The 2022 flood events significantly impacted NSW. According to the 2022 Flood Inquiry, flood events from February to July 2022, resulted in:

  • 14,637 damaged homes.

  • 5,303 uninhabitable homes.

  • 98 disaster declared Local Government Areas.

  • 1,000’s of kilometres of damaged roads.

  • Total infrastructure damage bill of $2.7 billion.

  • Sadly, the loss of nine lives.

The Problem

Transport has access to static flood risk data and one-in-100-year flood maps as a PDF, however, it lacked state-wide scale and real-time, dynamic intelligence based on live data. This meant that staff could not rapidly conceptualise the complexities of the event, the localised flood extent and depth, or the changing priority areas across the network at any point in time, which limited their previous disaster operations.

To overcome this, Transport integrated dynamic flood intelligence datasets into their disaster dashboard to provide whole-of-state live flood impact extents that were updated every hour, 24/7.  

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The Solution

FloodMapp products, NowCast and PostCast, were integrated into Transport’s existing Geographic Information System (GIS) platform to deliver up-to date, dynamic flood inundation extents during and after a flood. This enabled live analytics to allow the department to understand the impact to people, roads, transport routes and asset infrastructure, as river heights rose, with complex spatial queries and live situation reports delivered instantaneously. This facilitated dynamic situational awareness and informed, evidence-based and timely decision making throughout the event to support an effective emergency response.

The Transport disaster dashboard hosts FloodMapp’s real-time flood extents alongside asset data with socio-status analytics from Geoscience Australia, data integration with the NSW Spatial Collaboration Portal and data validation sources (such as traffic cameras) to provide visibility of whole-of-event impacts as they unfold across NSW. Though access to all this raw information is not new to Transport, the shareable web service dashboard can now collate and present it visually and intuitively. Instead of a static flood scenario map or a flood height, the disaster dashboard delivered rapid insights into the real-time impact to the transport network and assets as the flood situation unfolded.

Since the pilot was first operationalised during the floods in Sydney in July 2022, this disaster dashboard has supported active management of residual risk during an event and provided confidence in effective, timely decision making. The dashboard has enhanced Transport’s Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery processes, delivering the following safety and community outcomes:

Interoperability across state departments -
 

The NSW Department of Education (DoE) required assistance to determine whether  it was safe for schools to re-open during the July 2022 flood events. Due to extensive school catchment areas, understanding the impact on transport networks was complex. Using FloodMapp data, Transport was able to provide DoE with a clear, visual representation of the current transport route status and likely ongoing impacts as the flood peak moved downstream. Because of this clear communication, stakeholders like DoE gained an increased understanding of residual flood risk, which resulted in schools remaining closed to maintain community safety, and the need for active management as the event progressed.

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Adaptable and scaleable emergency management -
 

The 2022 Bathurst 1000 event was held during a significant flood event in September of that year. The event brought many tourists to the region, most of which were not familiar with the local flood behaviour and the impact the flood had on the road network, making it dangerous for them to travel between the event and their booked accommodation and disrupted plans to return home.  

A lack of local knowledge, combined with conflicting communication regarding camping and parking fines should tourists become stranded, resulted in chaos on the roads with significant choke points putting travellers at significant risk if weather conditions were to worsen. The Transport disaster dashboard and live flood intelligence was used to assess the risk at scale across the region and liaise with transport officers and the local council to communicate that any fees for camping or parking longer than permitted would be waived. This allowed tourists additional time to re-assess risk and shelter in place as required. 

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Improve isolation and shelter in place outcomes -
 

During the July 2022 flood event, significant road closures were in place between Richmond and Sydney, making the railway a popular alternative. As a critical asset, the Richmond train station needed to remain operational to allow commuters to return home safely and therefore reduce the impact of displaced persons. The train station was at risk of being flooded so the decision to close it, or not, was a weighty and critical one. Stakeholders turned to Transport. With the disaster dashboard and FloodMapp NowCast, Transport advised of the current flood extent, how close it was to critical closure points along the network and the elevation difference to provide some confidence regarding whether the network could remain open. As the dashboard integrates all critical elements of real-time data, this decision could be made dynamically and communicated quickly to maintain safe transport and reduce impacts and possibility of isolation.  

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The Outcome

The Transport disaster dashboard was also used to achieve these outcomes:
  • During flood events in Windsor, the dashboard assisted logistics planning to support public safety. It was able to identify how many people were impacted in Windsor, which informed how many buses were needed to be sent to the community to assist in evacuation.

  • Transport used the real-time flood intelligence data feed to provide Transport staff with SMS alerts during flood events, based on their residential address, to improve staff safety and preparedness while at home.

  • The dashboard also supported rapid damage assessments, streamlined asset inspections and repair and ultimately fast-tracked community recovery.

These are examples of how flood intelligence can support critical infrastructure operators during disasters, providing direct improvements in an organisation’s capacity and capability during an event. The ability to adapt quickly and share timely intelligence seamlessly with the entire organisation and external stakeholders led to faster, more effective and efficient decision making, reduced impact severity and time, moves the organisation into recovery earlier and provides significant data-as-a-resource when undertaking post-event reviews.

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This Transport initiative continues to be an industry-leading solution and FloodMapp is proud to be part of it. If you’d like to discuss the possibilities of creating something similar or explore how flood intelligence can be a powerful tool for your organisation, please reach out via hello@floodmapp.com or request a demo.

Read more case studies here

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FAQ

  • What is FloodMapp's point of difference?
    We offer a world-first model for scalable, real-time flood mapping. Our proprietary modelling software, DASH, delivers street level flood impact extents across whole states or countries. Where current flood warnings advise of the time and height of a predicted flood peak, our model will predict which specific properties or assets on a street will be impacted or show those that currently are or were previously impacted. FloodMapp’s products support all phases of the emergency management process, enabling situational awareness before, during and after a flood. We’re different because we understand that every flood is different and dynamic. We focus on modelling all phases of a flood event to answer the questions "Where is it going to flood, and what people, property and critical infrastructure will be impacted?”, "What is the extent of the flooding right now?" and "What was the maximum extent of the flood?" We bridge the gap in situational awareness by providing automatic updates of flood impact extent every hour, 24/7, as the flood event unfolds.
  • What locations do you provide coverage in?
    We have growing operational coverage in Australia and the United States, with new regions coming online each week. If you are interested in other areas of the world, please contact us to register your interest.
  • How accurate are your results?
    Our products are built for emergency managers and their peers, with a focus on modelling flood extents in real-time to provide round-the-clock situational awareness. We validate our models based on a variety of publicly and client-provided sources. A large-scale review showed FloodMapp models correctly identify up to 85% of inundated properties, when compared to state government damage assessment datasets. 

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