Developing nations get free access to vital flood risk intelligence developed by Bristol Uni spin-out

February 16, 2024

Data from advanced computer modelling tools developed by a Bristol firm is to be used to help predict devastating floods in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Fathom, which is already a leader in global flood risk intelligence, is to offer its data free of charge for non-commercial use to 16 countries under a new agreement with the World Bank. 

These countries, which include South Sudan, Somalia and Pakistan, are among the most vulnerable to climate change and often struggle with limited data resources.

Founded in 2013, Fathom emerged from research carried out by the University of Bristol Hydrology Group.

Its dual focus on commercial delivery and academic contribution has led to the pioneering of enhanced modeling approaches that are scientifically validated and effectively applied to solve industry challenges.

These give risk management professionals the most scientifically robust tools and intelligence for understanding the climate’s impact on water risk.

By publishing cutting-edge peer-reviewed academic research and applying it to real-world challenges, Fathom powers better decision-making for (re)insurance, civil engineering, corporate risk, financial markets, disaster response and government.

The firm said its dedicated team of scientists had a passion for innovation and the environment which they harnessed to develop rigorous catastrophe models and comprehensive mapping and geospatial data that make a real-world difference to customers and communities worldwide.

The agreement with the World Bank is a component of its licence to use Fathom’s Global Flood Map and represents a significant step forward in increasing data accessibility for the countries involved, some of which are in fragile and conflict-affected situations.

It also sets a precedent in the data industry, emphasising the vital importance of making data readily available, and aligns with the World Bank’s growing focus on utilising data and knowledge to benefit broader communities.

The data from Fathom’s Global Flood Map includes inland rainfall and river levels as well as coastal flood risk data for the countries’ current climate.

But to help with future-proofing, users will be able to analyse the future flood risk caused by climate change, including up to the year 2080.

Fathom CEO Stuart Whitfield said: “Awareness is pivotal for managing and mitigating the devastating effects of flooding.

“We’re incredibly proud to be offering insights into flood risk not previously available for these data scarce countries, to help support future planning and resilience to water risk.”

The countries eligible to use Fathom’s free flood risk data are Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Honduras, Madagascar, Federal State of Micronesia, Mozambique, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, South Sudan, Timor-Leste and the Republic of Yemen.

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