Real-time, street level flood forecasting technology – protecting lives and livelihoods
Innovation and benefits
Two decades of Loughborough research underpins a unique, real-time, property-level flood forecasting technology that is helping to protect and save lives and livelihoods worldwide.
FloodMap Live provides continuous modelling up to 48 hours in advance; using hyperlocal weather forecasts and nowcasts, provided by IBM, and topographical data to predict surface water, river and coastal flooding.
The generated forecasts and warnings are used across several industries to reduce the financial and human costs of flooding:
- Civil contingencies
Early research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). FloodMap Live was trialled and refined in partnerships with several organisations including Leicestershire and Rutland Prepared and the London Fire Brigade. These extensive trials were facilitated in close collaboration with the Cabinet Office, Met Office and Environment Agency.
Spinout company Previsico, was launched in January 2019 to commercialise the technology, with funding from Innovate UK’s ICURe programme and the University’s Enterprise Projects Group. The University is a shareholder in the spinout, as are the two founders, Dapeng Yu and Avi Baruch.
Previsico is working at the forefront of cutting-edge flood forecasting technology that supports both the UK Government's long-term resilience plan and the UN framework for disaster risk reduction.
The effectiveness of the technology is widely accepted. In late 2019, it was integrated into the Cabinet Office’s ResilienceDirect platform to provide live data to emergency responders – enhancing planning and supporting more agile responses to flood events.
Commercial contracts with leading insurers across the globe have been signed and there is a robust sales pipeline within this sector, including in the US. Interest in it is keen across the global marketplace.
Professor Dapeng Yu has amassed a wealth of knowledge around the real-world applications of the research and is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Previsico. The commercialisation of the research also supported Dapeng’s appointment to Professor.
Former Research Associates Dr Avi Baruch and Dr William Johnson are now full-time employees (Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, and Head of Technical Systems, respectively) while Professors Rob Wilby and Dr Andrew Pledger hold part-time roles.
The company continues to collaborate with Loughborough on research into flood forecasting, helping to ensure that the work is relevant and addresses real-world challenges.
The success of Previsico has cemented the University’s reputation as world-leader in this field. The underpinning research has generated several academic papers, published and well received in leading journals, including Nature. It also supports a REF Impact Case Study.
The venture has also supported student learning, and Previsico provides an internship and industrial placement programme for Loughborough students. In addition, the University and the School expect to gain financially from the sale of their equity in the future.