DAILY NEWS Dec 7, 2012 2:36 PM - 0 comments

Willis Group's academic arm wins prize for flood modelling paper

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The academic and analysis arm of Willis Group, Willis Research Network (WRN) has won the Lloyd’s Science of Risk prize in the category of Natural Hazards for a research paper on flood modelling.

FloodingThe winning paper, “A simple inertial formulation of the shallow water equations for efficient two-dimensional flood inundation modelling,” published in the Journal of Hydrology and undertaken at the University of Bristol with support from the WRN, provides in the public domain a blueprint for a new generation of flood models.

The judging panel, comprising experts from academia and insurance, praised the theoretical basis of the paper but were also impressed by its existing practical applications, Willis noted in a statement on the prize.

Flood models based on the equations and research outlined in the paper are already under development at Willis, the company also noted.

The methods will be used to inform risk analysis and pricing, and Willis said they will stimulate further research to improve flood modelling methods. WRN said it believes the paper could lead to a step change in the way floods are modelled.

“Whilst at first reading our paper appears heavily theoretical, its implications are profound and immediate for insurance industry flood risk analysis,” Prof. Paul Bates, Director of the Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol and WRN Senior Academic commented in the statement.

“The paper places in the public domain the blueprint for how to build a better flood inundation model in a way that is truly open source.”

“This research demonstrates the practical impact that cutting-edge science can have for businesses, especially within the insurance industry,” added Dr. Tim Fewtrell, Chief Hydrologist of Willis Global Analytics and co-author of the paper.“ Having reproduced this research in-house Willis is now in a position to develop industry leading, physically-based flood risk assessment tools for our clients.”

The Science of Risk prize was launched by Lloyd’s of London, the world’s specialist insurance market, in 2010 to stimulate cutting edge thinking into the latest emerging risks facing business. The prize creates an incentive for and rewards the best academic research into risk management. In 2012 the awards focused on natural hazards and climate change.

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