Measuring flood resilience with IBM Bluemix

According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, almost half of all losses due to natural disasters, both humanitarian and financial, are caused by floods. Yet 87 percent of funding available is allocated to post-disaster relief, recovery and cleanup, as stated in a jointly funded report from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery at the World Bank and the Overseas Development Institute.

Floods can literally wash away community development that has taken years to build.

The Z Zurich Foundation, funded by Zurich Insurance Company Ltd. and Zurich Life Insurance Company Ltd., initiated a global flood resilience program to advance knowledge, develop expertise and design strategies to help communities better manage flood risks, bringing together different organizations in a Flood Resilience Alliance.

The Alliance defines flood resilience as the community’s ability to pursue its social, ecological and economic development and growth objectives while managing disaster risk over time in a mutually reinforcing way.

Zurich Insurance flood resilience

Photo credit: M.Szoenyi

Measuring flood resilience

To effectively direct interventions (and measure their impact), the Alliance needed to gather information from communities and the wider environment in which those communities were located. To make that happen, there was a need to pull all the data together into a measurement tool in a centrally accessible location. However, there was no existing toolkit that fit the requirements.

Because Zurich has a longstanding relationship with IBM, when the Alliance identified the scope of its needs for the flood resilience initiative, it chose to work with IBM Global Business Services to develop an IBM Bluemix Public solution.

The Bluemix solution comprises questionnaires that are administered through a mobile app or web-based interface and a secure platform for data analysis.

Through discussions, research and on-the-ground experience in communities, combined with Zurich risk expertise, the foundation developed more than just a measurement tool. It has created a holistic framework that fosters understanding of flood resilience and how it can be developed.

Focusing on pre-event resilience building

Research from the program suggests that there’s a 5:1 benefit to budgeting resources prior to a flood rather than after. This means that for every dollar spent before the event, $5 in costs can be saved after the event.

The Bluemix measurement framework and tools help the program to deliver tangible evidence that demonstrates communities should shift their priorities from post-event funding to pre-event funding. Doing so will have a significant impact on improving flood resilience.

Learn more about how the Zurich Foundation is measuring flood resilience.

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May 11, 2017 at 03:06AM