A Brisbane-based startup that wants to protect people and property with its real-time flood forecasting technology has signed a “monumental contract” with a US Federal Government agency to help plan and manage responses to disasters that cause an estimated $5.4 billion in damages each year.
FloodMapp will give the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency operational flood inundation and analytics data feeds, as well as assessments of possible property damage (FEMA).
This builds on the progress they’ve already made in the US market by working with the navigation app Waze and RISE, a US non-profit that supports technologies that help people adapt to climate change. Together, they helped more than 10,600 drivers in Norfolk, Virginia, get safely around flooded roads at the end of last year.
FloodMapp’s dynamic flood inundation and analytics layers will give FEMA more information about how floods affect people, property, and critical infrastructure before, during, and after floods. This information will be used by the National Flood Insurance Program, which is run by the agency (NFIP).
FloodMapp was started in 2018 by Juliette Murphy and Ryan Prosser, who met while working in Canada two years earlier. The company’s technology is based on the Dynamic Automated Scalable Hydroinformatics (DASH) model, which is the result of years of research and development by a team of flood engineers, hydrology experts, data scientists, and software engineers.
Prosser, who is also FloodMapp’s chief technology officer, said the company was excited to put its technology to use on a national scale in the US. It has already been successful in Australia, where customers and partnerships include the Australian National Recovery and Resilience Agency, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, Transport NSW, Origin Energy (ASX: ORG), and more.
“These products are already being used operationally in Australia and the US to help government agencies coordinate targeted evacuations, inform road closures and operational traffic routing, and speed up community recovery with targeted distribution of funding and resources,” Prosser said.
“We have helped local, state, and federal emergency managers in Australia through some of the worst flooding the country has ever seen.”
Murphy, who is the CEO of FloodMapp, said she was happy to work with FEMA and help make the future safer and more stable.
“We are now excited to help FEMA and DHS with this project, where our technology can give them the information they need to make communities more resilient and speed up the recovery process. It’s great that DHS wants to make science and technology better “she told me.
“Their leadership to really come up with new ideas and use cutting-edge technologies is very impressive. We’re happy to get this contract, and I think that together we’ll make a big difference!”
Jeffrey Jackson, who is FEMA’s acting assistant administrator for federal insurance, said that FloodMapp’s real-time and predictive flood analysis could help the agency learn more about major floods as they happen.
“Making decisions quickly is important if we want to help our policyholders deal with the damage caused by flooding and get back on their feet.”
This new technology is different from the static flood studies that most emergency management agencies use, such as one-in-100-years flood models, which are based on probabilistic scenarios and were made for planning and building, not emergency management and disaster response.
Last year, the company connected its platform with Codafication’s Crunchwork software to help insurers figure out which claims come from the worst-affected areas.
End of 2021 seed funding of $8.4 million from Union Square Ventures’ Climate Fund in New York, Mundi Ventures, Climate X, and Jelix Ventures helped the company grow in 2022. FloodMapp used the money to grow the size of the business and move into new markets.
This was shown by the fact that annual sales went up by more than 1,370% in 2022 and that the number of employees almost tripled to 35.
In a company newsletter, Murphy said that March 2023 had been full of exciting events, like the FEMA contract and an International Women’s Day (IWD) event celebrating women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). However, this month marks one year since the 2022 floods in eastern Australia.
“It was such an important and terrible time for so many people, communities, and businesses, and our hearts go out to those who are still getting back on their feet. We always think about these people and communities, not just on the anniversary of the floods but every day “Murphy said.
“We are committed and determined to keep building our technology and bringing our solutions to as many communities as possible because of these people and their stories.
“The main goal of our work is to make the future safer. We want to live in a world where floods never kill anyone. Where people always get home safely to their families and friends.