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How Flood Resilience and Big Data Combine for Fast Answers, Anywhere

Globally, flood frequency is predicted to increase across 42 percent of Earth’s land regions by the end of the century. What if we showed you how, at the click of a button, Jacobs’ game-changing Flood Cloud service provides dynamic, on-demand access intelligence to promote resilience against climate threats?

A severe storm pounds a coastal shore

Project overview

Edited a report on Google Drive? Used Instagram to share vacation pictures? Chances are, by now you’ve heard of – or if you answered yes to either question – used – the cloud.

During the past several years, cloud computing has caused major change waves in technology and business spheres alike with its remote storage and on-demand access capabilities. Also causing major waves? Increasing flood risks. By the end of this century, researchers estimate that the frequency of floods will increase across 42 percent of land on Earth and that between 27 - 93 million people will be affected by devastating flooding.

The combination of the exponential growth in computing technology, continual advances in software and modeling methodology and major developments in data capture and availability have created a demand from both users of flood modeling software and clients, to make it quicker to run more detailed model simulations – as the risks increase in the coming years.

But what if we showed you how Jacobs’ Flood Cloud service changes the way we understand and interpret modeling possibilities, enabling users to seamlessly undertake their analysis, at any scale, in the cloud – to boost cities’ resilience and infrastructure needs in the face of climate variability?

Key Facts


of Earth will see an increase in flood frequency by the end of the century, some 27–93 million people will be affected 


people and £275 billion worth of property protected by using Flood Cloud for real-time flood forecasting and defense from increased fluvial flooding on the Thames Catchment

The impact of future climatic variability remains uncertain yet has the potential to significantly increase the exposure to severe flood events in cities. Improving our understanding of flood risk in cities is vital to ensure cities remain as resilient to both present day and future flooding as possible. By allowing users to run many more simulations than they are often able to, Flood Cloud provides modellers with the opportunity to understand flood risk in cities in more detail than ever before.

Dr. Jon Wicks
Jacobs Flood Modelling & Planning Global Technology Leader

Introducing Flood Cloud - Running Flood Modeller, TUFLOW and HEC-RAS Models

A step change for the better

collaboration between Jacobs and Parallel Works, Flood Cloud integrates Jacobs’ industry-leading 1D and 2D Flood Modeller Pro solvers with the Parallel Works platform and cloud platforms such as Google Cloud Platform and Amazon AWS, to provide an innovative cloud-based platform that allows organizations to act faster and more efficiently.

Flood Cloud also integrates with third-party flood modelling software such as BMT’s TUFLOW and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ HEC-RAS, and we’re currently developing integration for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SWMM software. By providing clients with the opportunity to select and run their preferred model(s), they’re able to use the most appropriate tool for each modelling application.

Flood Cloud is built on a secure and trusted platform, ensuring model data and personal details are safe and less prone to typical in-house IT infrastructure challenges. Flood Cloud is available globally to help clients, industry policy makers, government bodies and academics – helping anyone who needs to understand flood risk. The ability to run flood modelling software in the cloud rather than on individual machines allows users to undertake more simulations concurrently than they could on their own PC.

As the frequency and severity of weather events intensify, the required data included in modelling simulations is more detailed than in the past where modelers looked at selected water levels and flood extents from a handful of simulations such as three return period events (1 in 50, 1 in 100 or 1 in 1000 year). Now, the ability to run countless simulations at the same time gives users the ability to undertake hundreds or thousands of simulations, each with data sets covering ten or more annual exceedance probabilities with various climate change scenarios and a range of flood management options. Flood Cloud is a game-changer in helping users and clients respond to changing situations and enabling them to embrace big data environment challenges while developing a stronger understanding of flooding.

For example, a project may require simulations for five sets of inflow boundaries, at four future time periods, with three climate change scenarios and for three flood management options. For a two-hour base simulation run time this equates to more than two weeks of continuous running if a single standalone license is used. With Flood Cloud, all 180 individual simulations can be undertaken at the same time – saving the project two weeks.

Dynamic resilience, on-demand

By breaking down the computational barriers on modelling studies, Flood Cloud can vastly improve the understanding of future flood risk in cities by considering many factors including future climate projections, population growth and associated developments, model uncertainties and critical infrastructure.

Being able to run these simulations in the cloud will allow city planners to gain a greater understanding of the areas at risk of flooding and will help them to plan future developments that factor in future flood risk, while also taking mitigation measures to reduce it. The cloud also provides the opportunity to quickly explore how a range of possible infrastructure options can improve flood risk given these other uncertainties.

Recently, Flood Cloud was used on a study along the River Thames upstream of London to run multiple simulations that helped evaluate the impact of catchment wide storage schemes to mitigate climate change driven increases in fluvial flooding for the Thames Catchment. These mitigations will potentially deliver improved protection to 1.3 million people and £275 billion worth of property – including a half-million homes, eight power stations, more than 80 railway and Tube stations, and Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament along the River Thames.

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