‘Hot 100’ InsurTech Previsico announced the publication of a research paper entitled ‘Flooding impacts emergency response time in England’. The paper reveals that first responders can struggle to reach urgent cases, leading to a cascading increased risk of insured losses.

These findings are from an analysis of emergency response times under adverse weather and traffic conditions, conducted by Previsico’s founder Professor Dapeng Yu and Dr Avi Baruch, COO and published this week in Nature Sustainability, the leading international weekly journal of science.

Ambulance and Fire & Rescue services are the primary responders for flooding events. Flooding can impact their ability to respond within the mandatory timeframes by making roads impassable or by increasing traffic congestion. Climate change is also expected to increase the magnitude and frequency of flood events, which will add to the difficulties in responding to emergencies.

The study investigated how various levels of flooding impact the ability of emergency services to reach urgent cases due to flooded roads. They conducted geospatial analysis and mapped spatial accessibility for all locations of Ambulance and Fire & Rescue stations in England.

They found that 84% of the English population can be reached by ambulance within the 7-minute window for life-threatening incidents. However, under a 30-year river or coastal flood scenario, this drops to 70% and for a 100-year flood it is only 61%. The proportion of the elderly population that can be reached during a 30-year flood scenario is 65%, compared to 80% in normal conditions.

The authors highlight regional disparities in response times. Low-lying areas in the southeast and rural areas such as Cornwall see a reduction in response time even under low-magnitude flooding. Greater London is also negatively impacted by surface water flooding, demonstrated with a London Fire Brigade mobilisation dataset associated with the flooding occurred on the UK European Union reference polling day in 2016.

The authors conclude that although the impacts of the geographic spread of emergency services is well understood, the ‘cascading’ effects of flooding events must be used for more robust planning.

Previsico’s 3rd generation flood forecasting technology provides live actionable street-level flood nowcast and forecast warnings, with accessibility mapping data being increasingly used by the fire brigade, so that they can provide flood support, where needed, and access building and electrical fires without delay.

Insurers can also gain access to this data, so that they can more quickly reach vulnerable customers in need of extra support in the case of flood, as well as their claims teams gaining faster and easier access for loss adjusting purposes.

The paper, ‘Disruption of emergency response to vulnerable populations during floods’, has been published today in Nature Sustainability and can be viewed here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-020-0516-7

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