News archive 2009
Novel flood warning system developed03 Jun 2009, PR 111/09
Researchers from King’s College London and Hohai University are together developing a ground-breaking software system, the Novel Early Flood Warning System (NEWS). NEWS will be the first commercially viable multipurpose early flood warning system to take into account both climate change and corresponding hydrological effects.
It will be able to perform early and reliable flood event warning for short-term (a few hours) and medium-term (a few days) as well as risk analysis, which is currently unachievable with conventional models and software.
Flooding is a wide spread and devastating natural disaster across the globe. It is the worst natural disaster in the UK, causing annual damage of about £1.5 billion. The figure is expected to increase to £3.5 billion over the next few years (Association of British Insurers). Floods that took place in China over the past decade were ranked the worst among recorded floods worldwide in terms of human fatalities and economic losses (Munich Re-Insurance). Against this background, the establishment of effective flood forecasting and risk analysis systems has become a priority in many flood prone countries.
The project at King’s College London is led by Dr Hannah Cloke and Dr Yi He from the Department of Geography. Hannah Cloke says: 'The new system will satisfy many unmet technological demands in the field of flood prediction and risk analysis, and will bring significant benefits and commercial value to the private and public sector – in addition to the many lives we hope it will save! We have already received significant interest from industries and governments, and are excited to take the project to the next level with the development of a commercial prototype.'
While several software systems have been commercialized with significant market success, they often fail to (1) incorporate multiple weather forecasts and post-forecast data processing into one system to achieve reliable flood warning, (2) assess uncertainty and risk of an ensemble forecasts and (3) provide Application Programming Interface (API) Web services with interactive flood risk mapping.
The feasibility and commercial promise of the software has already been demonstrated successfully in the Upper Severn Catchment in the UK and subsequently in the Upper Huai Catchment in China. These tests were supported by the Natural Environment Research Council and a Partnership Award from Innovation China-UK (ICUK), which was facilitated by King’s College London Business. A recently granted Proof of Concept award from ICUK will take the development work to the next stage, supporting the translation of the ‘Novel Flood Early Warning System’ from a research prototype into a commercial system.
Prof. Zhijia Li, who leads the research at Hohai University, adds: 'ICUK has provided us with an excellent opportunity for King’s and Hohai to form a synergetic collaboration that allows both sides to reinforce their core expertise. As climate change is expected to herald in a new wave of extreme floods, we are beginning to see emphasis on effective flood forecasting with quantifiable uncertainties and minimum tolerance for error. NEWS comes at the right time for the good of citizens in China and the UK.'
Potential end-users include insurance companies (using flood risk maps to estimate loss values and calculate premium to be allocated to specific regions), engineering consulting firms (to provide sound climate-proof design for flood defences and other hydraulic structures), research and educational institutions as well as government authorities.
Notes to editors
Innovation China-UK (ICUK)
Innovation China UK (ICUK) is a joint initiative between the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills, and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. ICUK is the first UK-China collaboration programme to promote joint innovation and knowledge transfer between British Universities and Chinese Universities and other National Research Institutes.
The UK member institutions are: King’s College London, Queen Mary, University of Nottingham, Royal Veterinary College, University of Southampton. The Chinese member institutions are: all ‘Key Universities’ funded by the Ministry of Education (MoE), China, all ‘Key National Research Institutes’ funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and other ‘Key Universities & Institutes‘ participating in national research programmes funded by the Ministry of Sciences & Technology (MoST), China. ICUK is managed on behalf of the College by King’s College London Business.
For more information visit www.icukonline.org.
King's College London Business Ltd
King’s College London Business is the wholly-owned subsidiary company of King’s College London, responsible for the commercial development of research and innovation at King’s. Responsive to the needs of business and industry, the King’s Business team leads the licensing of new technologies, supports creations of new business ventures, engages consultancy services and develops new business partnerships. King’s Business promotes knowledge creation with the College across a variety of sectors including industry, commerce, the public sector and creative and cultural organisations. For more information visit www.kcl.ac.uk/business.
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2008) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 21,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org.
Melanie Haberstroh, International PR Officer
Public Relations Department
Tel: 020 7848 3076
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