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UK digital map pinpoints flood risk

Norwich Union has commissioned a revolutionary digital map of Britain to help pinpoint and understand exactly which areas of the country are at risk from river flooding.

The map, the largest ever undertaken in Britain, will be used to provide more accurate premiums for individual homes and businesses according to their risk of flood.

Data for the map will be collected by an airborne radar system, as part of the ‘NEXTMap Britain’® programme, Developed by Intermap Technologies. The data is used to produce a Digital Elevation Model, a map, which shows the height of the ground above sea level. This is then combined with a flood software model to produce information on where floods are likely to occur, how they can spread and how far they can extend. It is the first time that the two technologies have been brought together to produce a model of this size.

Mapping of the country has already started and is taking place by region, with initial data being collected at either 28,000 or 20,000 feet, depending on the density of the population in the area.

Commenting on the multi-million pound project, Clive Bolton, director of pricing for Norwich Union Insurance said: “This is a major step forward in the use of technology to approach the issue of flooding. One of the major obstacles to better flood prediction has been the lack of consistently accurate information on the height of land surrounding rivers. By investing in this technology, we’ll have the best available information about the risk of flood for insurance purposes.

“As the UK’s largest insurer, we’ve already implemented a number of initiatives to address the issue of flooding and the mapping project is a further step forward. We want to reduce the number of preventable floods happening in the first place and are lobbying for improved flood defences and planning regulations. By commissioning this project, we hope to better understand the risk of flooding – in terms of severity and frequency.”

Changes to Norwich Union premiums will be reflected later this year, following collection and analysis of the initial mapping data. The mapping project is being developed by Norwich Union in partnership with Intermap Technologies Corporation, Willis and HR Wallingford.