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FloodMapp partners with Esri Australia on NowCast

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

FloodMapp is excited to announce a new partnership with Esri - the global leader in intelligence - to roll out its groundbreaking product: NowCast.

NowCast provides government leaders and emergency responders with access to real-time flood mapping via a live mapping feed. Leveraging on A.I. and Machine Learning, FloodMapp’s rapid, real-time models incorporate live river height data and the latest elevation models to provide accurate, detailed information easily accessed by organisations to understand and respond to flooding.

Mark Wallace, Disaster Response Program Manager at Esri Australia, said NowCast will serve as a valuable information source for government leaders and emergency response teams responsible for managing the response to ongoing crises.

“Crises such as the 2021 Australian East Coast floods reiterate just how critical it is to have access to an accurate, map-based view of a situation as it unfolds,” said Mr Wallace.

“Through a progressive use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, FloodMapp has created a series of transformative solutions that will make a real difference to how communities plan for major flood events.

“Empowering decision-makers with these insights will help improve community preparedness ahead of an event – and ensure faster response and recovery following a flood.”

FloodMapp Co-Founder Juliette Murphy said her experiences during the 2011 Brisbane floods drove her to start FloodMapp in the hopes that with improved forecasting, floods would be a manageable event, rather than a catastrophic event for many.

“Loss of life, safety incidents and damage during floods are caused because individuals and businesses who do not understand that they or their assets are at risk. This is because current flood forecasting systems and data provided are too broad, and aren’t integrated in real time with the mapping tools used by individuals and businesses today.” said Ms Murphy.

“Current forecasting models provide peak flood heights related to rivers or catchments; this translates as broad areas on maps or even state-level flood warnings. It also relies on individuals and businesses having knowledge of their coastal and river systems, surrounding terrain characteristics, asset flood height, and the gauge ID and elevation datum of the nearest river of tidal gauge.

“Obviously this is not feasible for the majority of the population, which is where we step in.

FloodMapp has created a groundbreaking rapid flood model technology called DASH. Powered by artificial intelligence, DASH uses machine learning, hydraulics and hydrology algorithms to forecast and map flooding in real time.

DASH ingests real-time and forecast rainfall data, coastal and real-time river height data through large scale cloud-based data pipeline infrastructure to rapidly predict peak river heights, and generate inundation mapping at scale over large areas.

“DASH is the engine that powers ForeCast, NowCast and PostCast to support the emergency management process before, during and after the flood. This means that we can provide dynamic, real-time flood forecasting and mapping data feeds at scale to protect critical infrastructure, improve service delivery, and ensure safety is afforded during field service management.

“Essentially, we have created an interactive, integrated map that can be read by anyone from hydraulic engineers to members of the public during flood events,” said Ms Murphy.

Emergency Managers will use NowCast to increase their situational awareness and create a common operating picture on what specific locations will be affected by flooding, and what the impact of the flooding may be. They can then take practical steps to safely coordinate evacuations and prevent asset losses and damage. This has major safety and economic implications.

"The availability of flood studies is not centralised, and data is often fragmented. Government agencies and industry currently have varying access to some flood studies that are limited in their extent. These flood studies also tend to be static in time and only show the 1 in 100 year flood level,” said Mr Wallace

“With the existing workflow and business as usual practices, entities who have assets spanning a large geographical area or across a state jurisdiction, such as power utilities, often find understanding how their assets will be impacted during a flood event to be a big, insurmountable challenge.”

“For the first time, FloodMapp enables these entities to access real-time, high resolution flood mapping data and impact-based forecasts, through the tools they commonly use, such as ArcGIS and ArcGIS Online. They can overlay FloodMapp real-time flood extent data across their asset portfolio and undertake analytics as an emergency unfolds. This enables them to gain unrivalled situational awareness and rapidly understand how their assets, staff or the Public will be impacted, to inform critical decisions for public safety and loss prevention," said Mr Wallace.

FloodMapp is already operational in Queensland as well as in the USA working with government agencies, utilities, logistics companies and insurers.

One of FloodMapp’s biggest wins was working with the Queensland Government during the recent flood events to forecast the impact of an impending flood event, and rapidly identify people and property at risk. This allowed emergency services to safely evacuate people from affected areas.

Queensland Police Senior Sergeant Mike House from Logan District Disaster Management said what FloodMapp produced was really valuable. Further, when it was matched with QFES mapping technology, emergency responders and disaster management agencies could immediately identify at-risk properties and act quickly.

“It also allowed us to print a list of properties and begin doorknocking in plenty of time to allow residents to prepare for the possible flood,” Sergeant House said.

“More recently, we have also secured a large contract in Virginia, USA where we are working with cities to integrate FloodMapp NowCast into traffic routing applications to enable real-time traffic routing for drivers around flooded roads. We expect this to have significant impacts on the coastal communities, who suffer from flooding frequently.”

About FloodMapp:

FloodMapp is on a mission to improve safety and prevent damage on a global scale. Their vision is to ultimately offer products in all countries that suffer from flooding, to help governments and businesses everywhere become more resilient to flooding and adapt to a changing climate.

Flooding is a huge issue affecting millions of people around the world. In Australia alone, natural disasters cost the country $13.2B per year in economic damages of which flooding made up 67%. As flooding becomes more frequent and severe, these losses are projected to triple to $39.3B by 2050, even without considering the impact of climate change.

From 1987 to 2016, flooding has taken 218 lives in Australia. Often these deaths are caused when people are caught in flood waters or driving through flooded roads. The World Bank estimates that at least 35% of flood damages are preventable with better warning systems.

Preventable flood damage includes lost lives, vehicles, business and retail supply chain issues, economic losses, safety incidents, misrouting and poor logistics, business interruption and lost productivity, flooded mobile and immovable assets and operational inefficiency.

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