"Flood risk grows worldwide," indicates new research

“Risco de inundações cresce em todo o mundo”, indica nova investigação

New research published by Cloud to Street, a partner of Willis Research Network, offers new insights and information on the growing risk of flooding around the world. Cloud to Street uses direct satellite flood observations and refines this geospatial data with machine learning technologies, artificial intelligence and other methods, rather than modeled estimates that are commonly used in the Insurance industry.

The research, entitled Global Flood Database, provides a comprehensive view of flood exposure around the world and demonstrates how alternative methods of flood risk analysis through platforms like Cloud to Street enable insurers to understand these phenomena in a new and revolutionary way. The entire database is publicly hosted at Global-flood-database.cloudtostreet.ai.

The analysis cited by the Greensavers portal, reveals that the proportion of the global population exposed to flooding has grown by 24% since the start of the new millennium, far above scientists' initial expectations. Increasing exposure and a growing number of events explain the rapid increase, according to the research.

Since Cloud to Street joined the Willis Research Network in 2020, both parties have worked to address insurance gaps in developing countries, where about 90% of economic losses from disasters remain uninsured, putting economically vulnerable households at greater risk and delaying recovery.

Today, most flood maps rely on models that simulate flooding based on available ground data such as elevation, precipitation, and geologic sensors. These models are time-consuming and can have substantial limitations, totally ignoring flood incidents in regions historically not prone to these accidents. This leads to a large gap in flood insurance coverage and low penetration of such insurance worldwide, where coverage is either not available or inadequate.

Cloud to Street's Global Flood Database, meanwhile, is based on satellite observations of actual floods over the past two decades, which represents a step-change in developing a comprehensive view of global flood risk. This allows for additional analysis of the scope, impact and trends of recent floods, a major advance in the field of flood mapping, something essential to capture disasters resulting from climate change, while enabling greater penetration of flood insurance worldwide.

Bessie Schwarz, CEO and Co-founder of Cloud to Street, says, "More and more people and assets are affected by flooding compared to any other weather-related disaster. We are proud to help governments and insurers protect millions of people and billions in assets, something they couldn't do before."

In his turn, Nuno Arruda, Executive Director, Head of Sales and Client Management for Portugal at Willis Towers Watson argues that "this research contributes to an increasing awareness among all stakeholders (governments, organizations/companies, individuals) of the impact of climate change and the imperative need to take urgent action, while the models developed are fundamental for companies and individuals to make informed decisions to manage and protect their assets, investments, supply chains, etc., in relation to a risk whose frequency and severity is increasing dramatically."

The researchers analyzed daily satellite imagery to estimate both the extent and population exposed to more than 900 flood events between 2000 and 2018, and concluded that between 255 and 290 million people were directly affected (and between 2000 and 2015 the population in affected locations grew by between 58 and 86 million people).

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