NSW multi-partnership leveraging AI to predict flood risks

weather technology

A collaboration between the NSW Government, NSW State Emergency Service (SES) and researches from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and TPG Telecom is set to shed light on the capability of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered technology to predict the risks and impacts of flooding.

The partnership will leverage the capabilities of each organisation to develop and test network sensing technology to analyse localised weather information including rainfall, water levels and river flows using signals transmitted across the communications network.

This real-time weather data is assessed alongside historic Bureau of Meteorology data and flood information to create a 4D visualisation model through the NSW Spatial Digital Twin (SDT) to determine any changes to the landscape or constructions.

AI would then be leveraged to predict risks to infrastructure and communities, allowing the SES to use the data to send targeted alerts to at-risk communities.

The cornerstone project of UTS and TPG’s new Network Sensing Lab, the technology is currently being tested along Sydney’s Parramatta and Georges Rivers.

“Researching this technology is an opportunity to pioneer a new era of flood and storm intelligence,” Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, Jihad Dib, said.

“This work represents a significant step in the NSW Government’s efforts to combat risks to lives and properties during severe weather events.

“As we face increasingly severe weather influenced by climate change, we are supporting the NSW State Emergency Service with technology that could help communities access important storm and flood information quicker.

“The new technology will improve data-driven decision-making for first responders, filling an information gap that could make an important difference in emergency situations.

“This work will build on our investment in early warning systems and work to ensure communities are better prepared before disasters strike.”

The Flood and Storm Intelligence Sensing project is funded through Transport for NSW’s Smart Places Acceleration Program, a special part of the Digital Restart Fund, managed by the Department of Customer Service. The project indicates strides made under the state’s Disaster Mitigation Plan and its focus on developing early warning systems.

“This innovative research project has the potential to make all the difference in protecting people’s homes and keeping people safe during major flood and storm events,” NSW SES Commissioner, Carlene York APM, said.

“Intelligence forms the basis for decision-making during emergency responses for the SES, so it is critical we have access to timely and accurate information.

“This technology could give the SES access to real-time flood and storm intelligence data, potentially changing the way we are able to respond to disasters.

“The real-time delivery of localised data from this new technology, and its capability to visualise the impacts of floods, could be applied to decisions relating to deployment of assets and personnel, warnings, evacuations, property protection, resupply and the provision of information and advice to community members.

“This is a really exciting partnership for the NSW State Emergency Service, and I look forward to seeing how this groundbreaking research program unfolds.”