Previsico’s surface water flood model captures floods around John F. Kennedy Airport, New York, 29 September 2023 - the highest rainfall records since 1948.

Previsico’s surface water flood model captures floods around John F. Kennedy Airport, New York, 29 September 2023 - the highest rainfall records since 1948.

Previsico accelerates global mission to minimise the effect of flooding

The world’s first surface flood forecasting service developed by ClimateTech company Previsico has launched in the US in New York, following the devastating Autumn flooding that brought the city to a near-standstill with a state of emergency declared.

Previsico spun out of Loughborough University in 2019, quickly gaining traction to support global insurers such as Liberty, Zurich, Generali, and millions of client assets with live actionable flood warnings for surface water flooding to mitigate losses.

Recently, Previsico announced $2.4 million of further investment funding to support accelerated growth in the US market where half of all economic flood losses are due to surface water flooding ( 2022).

However, actionable flood warnings are only available for major river systems and coastal flooding with flash flood warnings only via weather alerts. These, while useful, do not take account of local conditions that makes them less actionable for saving livelihoods and even lives. In addition, a threefold increase in damage to commercial property from climate-related risks is now predicted by risk analysts XDI 1000 by 2050.

Previsico’s technology enables insurers to alert customers of immediate risks to their properties, so they can move valuables to higher ground or set up temporary flood defences in the case of an imminent flood.

Research by international academics including Loughborough University ( 2023) found that flash flooding is a growing threat for many areas around the world, including the world’s driest regions, last year affecting around two-thirds of Pakistan, with more than 1,500 people killed and around 33 million made homeless. Almost 2,000 people died in flash floods across Africa.

One of the researchers – Dapeng Yu, Loughborough University Professor of River Dynamics and Previsico Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer –  said: “Shifting weather, settlement patterns and lack of preparedness mean arid areas are taking an increasing hit from flooding. Researchers, practitioners and policymakers need to model, assess and mitigate the risk of flash flooding in drylands in a changing environment.”

“Previsico is already making a positive impact in the UK and now the US because we can connect to live meteorological data, governments and the insurance sector to provide actionable insights. However, few low- and middle-income nations have these systems because they lack the data and models to support them, as well as political incentives and funding. The World Meteorological Organization aims to redress this though its Flash Flood Guidance System with Global Coverage programme which is implementing warning systems in 64 countries in five continents.”

Professor Dan Parsons, Loughborough University Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, said: “Previsico’s mission is to minimise the impact of flooding globally by enabling people and organisations to proactively mitigate its impacts. This requires continuous innovation through harnessing leading data sources and cutting-edge technology to produce quality forecasts for those at risk of flooding. For example, in 2023, Previsico received funding from Innovate UK to develop a real-time flood-related loss estimation service for insurers and asset owners.”

“At COP28, a new draft resolution on ‘loss and damage’ has been discussed to provide essential finance to countries most impacted by climate change. This is an important move to support the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries hit by climate disasters. Researchers played an important part in making this happen.”

“The expanding body of research concerning loss and damage, including Previsico’s R&D activities in real-time loss estimation, will enable this initiative to be more widely recognized, especially by policymakers.”

Previsico has been on a fast-track since its launch on Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP) in 2019. Find out more about its journey from world-leading academic research to global ClimateTech company on the University website.

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