The Urban Flooding Open Knowledge Network comprises an interdisciplinary team of more than 80 partners and stakeholders from academia, industry, nonprofits, municipalities, states, counties and federal agencies across the country. Creating the knowledge network requires expertise in hydrological and hydraulic engineering; systems analysis; optimization and control; machine learning; computer science; public health; geography; urban planning; entrepreneurship; socioeconomics; and transportation, civil and electrical engineering.
Phase one of the project included creating a prototype of the network. Now, in phase two, the focus is on developing the product.
Yeghiazarian called upon other UC researchers outside of the College of Engineering and Applied Science to join the collaborative project she is leading as principal investigator.
Charles Matthews, UC professor of entrepreneurship and strategic management in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, is exploring how to make any future product financially viable. He is assessing what business model might make the most sense and whether it should it be a revenue or non-revenue model.
“We’re looking at making something valuable that can provide real-time information to avert the cost of urban flooding,” Matthews said. “That’s a great goal, but then how do we take that into a sustainable practice? How do we ensure this becomes a valuable product to a user?”
Lindner economics professor Olivier Parent and Rainer vom Hofe, professor of planning in UC’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning, are tasked with measuring the scope of the impact of a flood on a society. They are building an economic model that will simulate the possible costs associated with different flooding scenarios.
“The model will probably provide you some reasonable answers on who is mostly impacted by those different scenarios and what the magnitude of the socioeconomic impact might be,” vom Hofe said.
This would allow decisionmakers using the tool to anticipate the potential financial costs of a future flood and determine where to invest in precautionary measures.
“Using modeling, we can analyze the disruption in the economy from a flood and how that disruption can impact all of the economic actors, including the industries, households, government, and so on,” Parent said.
They hope to uncover the cascade of socioeconomic impacts across a community if, for example, roads are damaged during flooding. Beyond the cost of repairs to the infrastructure, the researchers seek to measure other effects, such as how that alters the flow of goods and services within the region, the ability of the people to get to work, rescue operations, or the long-term economy of the city.
With flooding expected to increase across the country due in part to climate change, the Urban Flooding Open Knowledge Network will provide valuable data to cities to limit devastation by predicting the impact of these natural disasters.
“The knowledge network will provide actionable information and answers to questions related to real-time flood mitigation, as well as response and long-term design, planning and research. With broad access to connected information, we hope to help save lives, time and money,” said Yeghiazarian.