Expert view: Working together to better plan, manage and respond to flood risk

Richard Brocklebank, Business Development Manager, Ordnance Survey

Last week over 190 industry professionals got together to hear the latest on flood risk and data available to help understand and manage it at a collaborative event organised by Ordnance Survey, Environment Agency, Met Office and British Geological Survey. Our vision for the event was to bring together data creators, application providers, insurers and brokers in one room, with the aim of facilitating discussion and working together to better manage the problem of flood risk across the UK. Through this the industry would gain a greater understanding of the scale of the flood risk problem and available data to help them with their work.


The event focused on the datasets available from government organisations and how they can enhance flood risk analysis and response. The Environment Agency explained how  their new surface water flood risk map (to be released in December) which uses  input from lead local flood authorities  complement their existing river and sea risk data. They also presented their real time flood warning service, which helps insurers plan their response to flooding as it occurs (updated to users every 15 minutes). This would allow the Industry to proactively contact customers, understand exposure extents and consider how best organise and prioritise a response in the field.

British Geological Survey talked about Groundwater flooding data (picture below), which allows insurers to understand groundwater flooding mechanisms, where groundwater flows and when combined with claim and property information, map areas susceptible to groundwater flooding.


Whilst the Met Office are experienced at providing risk-based weather warnings and advice to the civil contingency community, they are keen to engage directly with the insurance community to ensure these capabilities can be exploited within this industry. They collect, process and model millions of observations of meteorological phenomena every day which are used alongside leading science to produce hindcasts, forecasts and projections over a range of timescales.

With more insurers and brokers employing risk-modelling professionals or deploying risk assessment applications from geospatial vendors, Ordnance Survey (presenting below) continues to make available relevant data for a more customised view. We create accurate, consistent and current mapping and property datasets, providing the backdrop context and detail for assessing risks at individual property level in Great Britain. OS Terrain 5 provides an accurate representation of the bare earth landscape of Great Britain and offers further insight for flood and windstorm modelling. This will be complemented by both a detailed river network and building height products due to be launched in 2014.


The greatest benefit to Insurers is, therefore, using these datasets and services together in vendor provided applications for a complete and up to date view  that support both risk assessment and claims management. .As the industry considers the results of Defra’s consultation on the future availability and affordability of household insurance in areas of high flood risk, it’s clear that insurers have more tools than ever to assess the risk and manage the impact of flooding on customers in a constantly changing landscape.

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2 Responses

    1. Gemma

      Hi Kirsty,

      The event was called FloodRisk 2013 and it was aimed at the Insurance Sector. We are planning a follow up in Autumn 2014. We’re also thinking of extending the event to other segments such as claims management companies and banking in the new year.

      Many thanks

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