Flood forecasting research underpins world-first solution as part of new UK resilience mapping platform

Loughborough University today announces that it has partnered with the Cabinet Office and Airbox Systems to provide surface water flood nowcasting for the new ResilienceDirect mapping platform – a world first for an emergency planning system.

The ResilienceDirect platform provides a single place for emergency responders to plan for and brief against all types of resilience events across the UK. Free at the point of use and available to all UK category 1 and 2 responders, it includes many enhancements over the previous mapping tool, which it replaces, and is scalable to encompass future scenarios.

The surface water flood nowcasting capability, FloodMap Live, is currently available on the ResilienceDirect platform across London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leicester. Developed from over 20 years research at Loughborough University, it allows emergency responders to understand which access routes may be affected by surface water during high rainfall events, saving vital response time. It uses ‘hyperlocal’ IBM rainfall forecast and nowcast datasets to continuously model flooding and provide actionable flood alerts, showing depths and times of forecasted events up to two days in advance, updated every three hours.

Luana Avagliano, Head of ResilienceDirect, said: “This is ground-breaking work that will immensely assist our resilience community in making informed decisions for planning and response to flood events and impact." She added: “It is imperative that in this ever-changing and challenging world, we stay up-to-date and embrace emerging technologies. This is why, as always, user requirements have driven our ResilienceDirect mapping capability. We will continue to provide the best possible tools for our Resilience Community and support their mission to Save Lives and Keep the UK Safe.”

In 2016, Dapeng Yu, Professor of River Dynamics at Loughborough University, led the collaboration with the Cabinet Office to improve the accuracy of forecasting surface-water flooding – the UK’s greatest and Europe’s fastest-growing cause of floods. Until now, surface-water flood warnings lacked the spatial resolution needed by government and emergency services to prepare and respond to flood events.

In 2019, Loughborough launched a spinout to exclusively licence the FloodMap Live technology. Previsico has been on the fast-track since launch, most recently setting up to go live in the US –  the world’s largest insurance market. Previsico is headquartered in the University’s Incubator, on its Science and Enterprise Park LUSEP, where its workforce has leapt from 3 to 11 in 18 months.

Loughborough University Pro-Vice Chancellor for Enterprise Professor Tracy Bhamra said: “Integration into the new ResilienceDirect platform is a key milestone for a partnership that began six years ago, with the local resilience forum in Leicestershire. With the Cabinet Office and our ongoing global research and the commercial partnerships driven through Previsco, we can accelerate the positive impacts of this world-first flood forecasting technology.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 20/101

About FloodMap Live: FloodMap Live draws on Loughborough University’s Professor Dapeng Yu and Professor Robert Wilby’s research into flood inundation modelling, hydroclimate simulation and flood risk assessment, over the last 18 years and 30 years, respectively. Internationally peer-reviewed research, most recently Nature Sustainability, confirms FloodMap Live is groundbreaking and has advanced knowledge in flood modelling, communicating flood-risk information, evaluating the accuracy of flood nowcasting and its application to manage hotspots for vulnerable populations including hospitals, care homes and schools.

About Previsico: Recently voted into the ‘Hot 100’ global InsurTechs by Intelligent InsurTech, Previsico specialises in modelling flooding in real-time, including surface water flooding. It utilises the latest weather predictions, in partnership with IBM, to make live, actionable, street-level flood nowcast and forecast warnings.

A spin-off company from Loughborough University, Previsico was launched earlier in 2019 following 20 years of academic research across 50 cities worldwide, with the support of the Cabinet Office, Met Office, and Environment Agency who conducted pilots in five cities initially, namely London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester, and Loughborough, now covering the entire UK.

Previsico’s mission is to minimise severe weather's impact on people and organisations worldwide, with the whole of the UK now mapped and the US East Coast and Rocky Mountains mapped during 2020. Additional enquiries are also coming in from around the world.

The Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS), created in July 2001, is the executive department of the British Cabinet Office responsible for emergency planning in the UK. The role of the secretariat is to ensure the United Kingdom's resilience against disruptive challenge, and to do this by working with others to anticipate, assess, prevent, prepare, respond, and recover.

Airbox Systems Limited is the leading supplier of map-based situational awareness tools to the UK emergency services.  Operating across police, fire, medical response, and the military, Airbox is driven by a clear mission to help save life and empower responders. 

About Loughborough University: Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2020 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2020, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2021.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.