Revolutionary digital map commissioned to pinpoint flood risk

Article date: 15 March 2002

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

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

Data for the map will be collected by an airborne radar system,as part of the ‘NEXTMap Britain’® programme*. The datais used to produce a Digital Elevation Model, a map, which showsthe height of the ground above sea level. This is then combinedwith a flood software model** to produce information on wherefloods are likely to occur, how they can spread and how far theycan extend. It is the first time that the two technologies havebeen brought together to produce a model of this size.

Mapping of the country has already started and is taking placeby region, with initial data being collected at either 28,000 or20,000 feet, depending on the density of the population in thearea.***

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

“We’ll also be able to better understand whether acustomer has been a victim of a one-off occurrence or is at riskfrom potentially frequent flooding. Equally, we may find that someproperties, thought previously to be at risk, may not flood becauseof the height of the land. This new information will help us to setmore appropriate premiums in future.

“As the UK’s largest insurer, we’ve alreadyimplemented a number of initiatives to address the issue offlooding and the mapping project is a further step forward. We wantto reduce the number of preventable floods happening in the firstplace and are lobbying for improved flood defences and planningregulations. By commissioning this project, we hope to betterunderstand the risk of flooding – in terms of severity andfrequency.”

Changes to Norwich Union premiums will be reflected later thisyear, following collection and analysis of the initial mappingdata.

The mapping project is being developed by Norwich Union inpartnership with Intermap Technologies Corporation, Willis and HRWallingford.

Media contact:
Liz Kennett/Jenny Chapman at Norwich Union on 08703 66 68 63

Notes to editors:

  • * NEXTMap Britain’®, developed by Intermap TechnologiesCorporation in partnership with Norwich Union, provides the mostcurrent and accurate digital elevation and image data of England,Wales and Scotland.
  • ** Developed by Willis
  • ***The data will be collected by the airborne radar system at28,000 feet for most areas and 20,000 feet for more denselypopulated areas.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer. In generalinsurance it is more than 1.5 times the size of its nearestcompetitor, and has a 19 per cent share of the market.
  • It has a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses. It insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in five motor vehicles
    • more than 700,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners suchas banks and building societies, and Norwich Union Direct.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases are available on thisinternet site
  • A selection of images is available from the CGNU Newscast siteat
  • An ISDN line is available for studio quality interviews. Callthe press office 08703 66 68 68
  • Norwich Union Insurance Limited Registered in England Number99122 Registered Office. 8 Surrey Street Norwich NR1 3NG
  • Member of the CGNU Group of companies and of the GeneralInsurance Standards Council
  • Intermap Technologies Corporation are world leaders inphotogrammetric mapping and digital terrain modelling. They haveextensive international experience in both government andcommercial projects in some 95 countries. Their products coverover half a billion square kilometres of the Earth. They have beencommissioned to fly over the UK using their STAR- 3i® IFSARairborne radar and collect the data with which to generate theDigital Elevation Model (DEM).
  • Willis, the global insurance broker and risk consulting firm,is providing its award-winning flood risk modelling technology toNorwich Union.
  • HR Wallingford are hydraulic modelling experts who will bevalidating the processes and results of the project.

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