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Flood Modelling Revolutionized: Quantifying Flood Risk on a Global Scale for the First Time

Flood Modelling Revolutionized: Quantifying Flood Risk on a Global Scale for the First Time

JBA’s new Global Flood Model, enabling probabilistic assessment and quantification of flood risk for 99.98% of the world’s landmass for the first time, has recently been released on the new Nasdaq Risk Modelling for Catastrophes service. In an interview with Jane Toothill, Director at JBA Risk Management, we found out more about the new model, the revolutionary technology underpinning it, and where JBA is looking to in the future.

As a bit of background, what is JBA Risk Management?

JBA is the global leader in flood risk science. We’ve been making cutting-edge risk intelligence usable for re/insurance, financial, Disaster Risk Reduction and property clients for the past decade, developing flood maps, models and analytics worldwide. Our team is made up of industry-leading experts and scientists so we’ve always been pioneering – we were the first to make global flood maps available commercially, the first to develop flood maps for the US and Europe at 5m resolution, and now the first to release a probabilistic flood model on a global scale.

Speaking of your new model, what drove you to develop it?

There’s long been a need for flood modelling on a global scale, especially in the re/insurance industry, as gaps in flood model coverage and thus a difficulty in fully understanding the risk have meant insured flood losses remain high in some parts of the world. We’ve had our Global Flood Maps and Global Flood Event Set for the past few years, so the next logical step was to combine the two to create a Global Flood Model and fill these coverage gaps.

However, flood modelling on a global scale had so far been impossible for two main reasons:

  1. A lack of model components offering global coverage (now covered by JBA’s maps and event set)
  2. Models have traditionally required large amounts of processing power, which would be unfeasible for the scale of data needed to model globally.

So, we had to rethink the way we model flood and developed FLY Technology to help us do so.

What is FLY Technology?

FLY Technology is JBA’s new analysis engine that enables us to overcome these challenges. It changes the way we approach flood modelling. Rather than pre-building and pre-compiling the model using set parameters, the model is compiled at run-time directly from event set, hazard, vulnerability and other data of choice based on the contents of a portfolio.

This enables global representation of flood risk for the first time, at quicker run times, and provides unprecedented model customisation. Users can swap data and adjust parameters to capture their own view of risk, including hours clause, vulnerability data, hazard data and event set, or simply invoke JBA’s recommended data and parameters. JBA has been developing models for many years in collaboration with clients and giving users the ability to run a model the way they intend, using FLY Technology, is a natural extension to this.

Users can now quantify the cost of river and surface water flood at any location in the world for hotspot identification, portfolio management, reinsurance pricing and more. Using modern technology and a fresh perspective, JBA’s Global Flood Model not only provides the ability to generate a probabilistically modelled loss result for flood anywhere worldwide, but also overcomes the challenges associated with growing global portfolios and addresses the regulatory requirement for re/insurers to thoroughly understand, justify and own their view of risk.

What does the future look like for JBA?

We’re excited about the continued evolution of catastrophe risk management and insurance industry as a whole. Our new approach to modelling flood risk means that we can offer frequent advances of the Global Flood Model much more easily on a global or individual country basis, ensuring that the user can keep up to date with the most relevant science data and technology. For example, our UK Flood model is currently undergoing a program of advances for release early 2021.

Climate change is obviously a key topic and will no doubt be of significant focus in the future. JBA is committed to helping our clients understand their future flood risk under a changing climate so there will be some exciting developments in JBA’s climate data offering beyond our existing UK Climate Change Flood Model which we launched in back 2017.

We’re also committed to helping broaden access to leading catastrophe risk data, which is why we offer all of our flood datasets on Nasdaq’s Risk Modelling service reaching a wide global audience. In the future, we’ll continue to make our science usable by partnering with organisations like Nasdaq.

If you’re interested in JBA’s Global Flood Model or other flood data, including global flood maps and pricing data, you can read more here and get in touch with the team.

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