About 7 per cent of residential properties in homes across Australia are exposed to predictable and repetitive flooding, causing an average of $450 million in flood damage each year. Insurers and water authorities want to fully understand the cause of flooding.
Currently it takes water managers a lot of time and effort to collect the required information before, during and after an extreme rainfall and flood event. Water managers have a difficult task and require improved information regarding rainfall and streamflow to manage flood events as they unfold allowing them more time to make good decisions.
Thanks to funding from the European Space Agency a solution will be developed that allows water managers and insurance companies to access required information quickly and easily.
The objective is to demonstrate “The Rain and Flood Report Generator” service which automatically collects the best available rainfall and flood data from crowdsourcing apps, gauges, radars and satellites for any specified location in Australia. The report generator smartly combines and translates this data into easy to understand rainfall and flood maps and automatically generates documents containing all required information to support flood analysis.
Users and their needs
The solution to be developed in this project targets two main user communities in Australia: insurance companies and water managers.
Insurance companies in Australia are confronted with an increasing number of flood claims. Most policies state that insurance companies will pay for damage caused by excessive rainfall or storm water and not for damage caused by rising river levels. It currently takes a lot of time and money to collect the required data and information to identify this cause. Automation of these processes are hugely beneficial for insurance companies, since it:
- Improves data quality;
- Improves data availability;
- Enhances transparency in cause analysis;
- Saves a lot of time and money.
Rainfall information is an important source to identify flood causes. Moreover, in water management terms, rainfall is the most important element in the water balance. Water managers can increase water system understanding by improving precipitation quality. In this way, the tools developed in this project are beneficial for both insurance companies and water managers.
Partners involved in this project are:
- Water Technology;
- Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Agency;
- North Central Catchment Management Agency;
- West Gippsland Catchment Management Agency;
- Melbourne Water Catchment Management Agency.
Australia was chosen as project area, as numerous disasters occur in Australia, the populated areas are poorly monitored and using satellite data is therefore expected to be very beneficial.
The data required for this project are collected from different sources: gauges, radar and satellite data. These data are collected and stored in databases in a data centre in Australia. The RainWatch and FloodWatch backend modules validate the data and translate the basic data into the best available area covered rainfall map of Australia and into flood maps.
For the insurance industry two front end applications will be developed:
- The Flood Claim Report Generator which will be made accessible as application via the HydroNET web portal.
- The EyeWitness application which will be made available as smartphone application that can be downloaded from the Google Play store (Android) or Apple App store (IOS).
For the water market two additional front-end applications will be made available: the FloodWatch and the RainWatch applications which will be made available as applications via the HydroNET web portal.
Space Added Value
Australia is a sparsely monitored country: only along the coastal strip and in highly populated inland areas, monitoring networks exist, whereas many hazards originate inland or from the sea. For data sparse regions like Australia, Earth Observation and geo-localisation services can provide important knowledge and information for an improved understanding of Natural Hazards. We use earth observation from NOAA’s GOES Hydro Estimator to collect area covered precipitation data, and we use GNSS to determine the geo-location of the photos/videos captured via the EyeWitness crowd-sourcing app.
Rainfall information based on NOAA’s GOES Hydro Estimator made available via the RainWatch service
The project started in January 2015. The user requirements workshops were organized in March 2015. Over 20 organisations joined the user requirement workshops.
Currently the services are demonstrated with the users in Australia.