In a major research undertaking, a group of scientists and a technology nonprofit technology organization have set a mission to calculate the past, current and future flood risk of every property in America.
While institutional real estate investors and insurers have privately purchased this type of information for years, the tech nonprofit First Street Foundation and its partners say they plan to release it for free and make it easily accessible and understandable through its online database, Flood iQ.
Scientists from Columbia University, flood modeling firm Fathom, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the research institute Rhodium Group, Rutgers University, the University of California–Berkeley, and the University of Bristol are partnering with First Street on the project. The team includes 57 people, 25 of them Ph.D.s.
“The government has failed to inform the American people about the true risk of flooding be it past, present or future facing. Large institutional investors are capitalizing on that,” said Matthew Eby, First Street’s executive director of First Street, which is, naturally, housed on Water Street in New York City. “We will put this otherwise privileged information into the hands of every American, so they are empowered to protect themselves.”
The group wants to see properly-calculated flood risk applied to “all insurance rates, mortgages, land use decisions, bond ratings and other financial instruments.”
Flooding in the U.S. has cost more than $1 trillion in inflation adjusted dollars since 1980 and represents more than 63% of the cost associated with all natural disasters causing $1 billion or more damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)…