Breakthrough for Brisbane startup FloodMapp with US FEMA contract

Breakthrough for Brisbane startup FloodMapp with US FEMA contract

California is one state that was affected by severe flooding at the start of 2022. Photo: California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, via Facebook.

A Brisbane-based startup on a mission to protect people and assets with its real-time flood forecasting technology has announced a "monumental contract" with a US Federal Government agency, helping authorities plan and manage responses to a disasters that are estimated to cause $5.4 billion in annual damages.

FloodMapp will provide its operational flood inundation and analytics data feeds, including assessments of potential property damages, to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

This builds on previous inroads in the US market after partnering with wayfinding app Waze and RISE, a US non-profit that supports technologies that offer climate change resilience; a joint partnership that helped more than 10,600 drivers safely navigate around flooded roads in Norfolk, Virginia, late last year.

FloodMapp's dynamic flood inundation and analytics layers will give FEMA greater situational intelligence about flood impacts to people, property and critical infrastructure before, during and after flood events, which will all be taken into account by the agency's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Founded in 2018 by Juliette Murphy and Ryan Prosser who had met while working in Canada two years prior, FloodMapp's technology is based on the Dynamic Automated Scalable Hydroinformatics (DASH) model that comes from years of research and development from a multi multidisciplinary team of flood engineers, hydrology experts, data scientists, and software engineers.

Prosser, who is also FloodMapp's chief technology officer, said the company was excited to put its technology into action on a national scale in the US following demonstrated success there as well as in Australia, where customers and partnerships include the Australian National Recovery and Resilience Agency, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, Transport NSW, Origin Energy (ASX: ORG) and more.

"These products are already being used operationally today in Australia and the United States to help government agencies coordinate targeted evacuations, inform road closures and operational traffic routing, and fast track community recovery with targeted distribution of funding and resources," Prosser said.

"We have successfully supported emergency managers within local, state, and federal government in Australia through some of the worst flooding the country has ever seen."

Murphy, who is FloodMapp's CEO, said she was proud to work with FEMA and help build a safer, more resilient future.

"We are now excited to support FEMA and DHS through this project where our technology can provide the intelligence needed to improve resilience and fast track community recovery. DHS's commitment to advancing science and technology is fantastic," she said.

"Their leadership to truly innovate with cutting edge technologies is inspiring. We’re honored to be awarded this contract and I believe that together, we will make a big impact!"

FEMA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Federal Insurance, Jeffrey Jackson, said FloodMapp's predictive and real-time flood analysis could improve the agency's understanding of major flood events as they unfold.

"Timely decision making is critical to support our policyholders as they face devastation from flooding and begin their recovery."

The introduction of this technology is in contrast to the static flood studies that most emergency management agencies rely on, such as one-in-100 years flood models, which are based on probabilistic scenarios and were primarily designed for planning and construction, not emergency management and disaster response.

Last year, the company integrated its platform with Codafication’s Crunchwork software to offer insurers a better understanding of which claims originate from the worst-affected areas.

Growth in 2022 was aided by $8.4 million in seed funding at the end of 2021, led by New York-based Union Square Ventures’ Climate Fund, with participation by Mundi Ventures, Climate X, and Jelix Ventures. FloodMapp used the capital to scale the company and expand into new markets. 

This was reflected in annual revenue surging more than 1,370 per cent in 2022, which was coupled with a near tripling of staff to 35.

In a company newsletter, Murphy said whilst there had been many exciting moments in March 2023 including the FEMA contract and an event that celebrated women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) on International Women's Day (IWD), this month marks one year since the 2022 eastern Australia floods.

"It was such a significant and devastating time for so many individuals, communities and businesses and our hearts are with those still recovering. It is these people and communities that are always in our thoughts - not just on the anniversary of the floods, but every single day," Murphy said.

"It is these people and their stories that drive our commitment and determination to continue to build our technology and deploy our solutions to as many communities as possible.

"Our core mission is to build a safer future. We want to see a world where no lives are lost in flood events. Where people get home safe to their families and loved ones, always."

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