Leveraging Data to Understand and Mitigate Loss During Extreme Storm Events

Last Modified: Jan 31, 2019


  • Matthew Jones PhD, PE - Hazen and Sawyer

This presentation will provide an approach to leverage readily available historical and real-time data during storm events to better understand potential consequences, mitigate impacts, and enhance public safety. With ongoing development coinciding with an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme storm events, there is currently a great deal of emphasis on establishing municipal resiliency plans, understanding risks and vulnerabilities. These plans often assist in modifying design standards and developing capital improvement plans, which can support long-term improvements but don’t necessarily address near-term concerns. The presented approach supplements these planning efforts by focusing on informed decision making during a storm event.

As reported in the daily news, municipal leaders are being called on to make educated decisions regarding public safety during storm events. Comprehensive hydrologic and hydraulic models tied to near real-time precipitation records and forecasts are one way to inform these efforts but require substantial effort to prepare and validate. The presented approach leverages existing data sources to present real-time information during a storm event in relation to known infrastructure conditions and historical records from prior events both internal and external to the municipality. Example data sources include bridge and roadway elevations, road closure information, repetitive flood loss data, tidal flooding levels, FEMA flood maps, NOAA rain gauges, USGS rain and flood stage gages, and more. Using an established business intelligence framework, leaders can quickly visualize this information and direct resources based upon known or likely impacts using these data, thereby enhancing public safety. This methodology represents another tool for municipalities facing increased frequency and intensity of storm events.

For more information, please contact the author at mjones@hazenandsawyer.com.

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