Loughborough University has worked with the Cabinet Office and Airbox Systems to provide surface water flood nowcasting for the UK Government’s new ResilienceDirect mapping platform – a world first for an emergency planning system.

ResilienceDirect allows emergency services to plan for and respond to all types of resilience events. Free at the point of use and available to all UK category 1 and 2 responders, it is scalable to encompass future scenarios.

FloodMap Live

Drawing on more than 20 years of research conducted at the University, the surface water flood nowcasting capability, FloodMap Live, is currently available on the ResilienceDirect platform across London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leicester.

It allows emergency responders to assess which access routes may be affected by surface water during high rainfall, saving vital response time. It uses hyperlocal IBM rainfall forecast and nowcast datasets to continuously model flooding and provide actionable flood alerts. Updated every three hours, it also provides flood depths and times of forecasted events up to two days in advance.

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. It is imperative that in this ever-changing and challenging world, we stay up-to-date and embrace emerging technologies.”

From research to resilience tool

In 2016, Dapeng Yu, Professor of River Dynamics at the 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.

Prior to this, 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. The company has been on the fast-track since launch, most recently preparing to go live in the US – the world’s largest insurance market.

It is headquartered in the University’s Incubator, on its Science and Enterprise Park LUSEP, and its workforce has leapt from three to 11 in just 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, our ongoing global research and the commercial partnerships driven through Previsco, we can accelerate the positive impacts of this world-first flood forecasting technology.”