We partnered with EASOS to tackle chronic flooding – a major problem faced by Malaysia.

The Challenge

In 2014, the worst monsoon rains in three decades hit the east coast of Malaysia. It caused major flooding, resulting in 21 deaths and 250,000 displaced people. The total economic loss was considerable and recovery efforts cost $280 million.

The Government of Malaysia needed help with a system to tackle a range of environmental issues, including flooding. The 18-month project began in December 2016 with a consortium formed with 13 UK-based companies – Earth and Sea Observation System (EASOS). Part-funded through the UK Space Agency’s International Partnerships Programme, this £152m programme uses space knowledge, expertise and capability to provide sustainable, economic and societal benefits to undeveloped nations and developing economies.

Our Solution

Our task is to develop flood forecasting and early warning systems which will be integrated into an easy-to-use integrated dashboard system for the Malaysian government.

To do this we’re using terrestrial data from rainfall and water level sensors, weather radar and weather forecasts. But we’re also incorporating near-real-time satellite data and the latest computer and modelling technology to produce the most accurate predictions possible.

The EASOS Flood Watch system incorporates satellite data to monitor real-time and forecasted rainfall. This is combined with telemetry data, catchment state conditions and Flowroute-i™ forecasting simulations. With this data, we’re building high-precision flood maps to estimate multiple sources of flooding across a range of return periods.

These maps will form the foundation for further risk analysis using catastrophe modelling. This will enable better understanding of the flood risk landscape and support more effective decision-making before, during and after a flood event.

The Outcomes

By providing decision makers with all the relevant information in a single dashboard, EASOS will assist in planning, prevention and post-event response strategies across a range of government agencies. This will reduce the potentially catastrophic impact of flooding and assist disaster relief activities, as well as improving recovery speed and efficiency through dashboard alerts to trigger response teams to invoke disaster plans.

Using EASOS, the Malaysian government will have the ability to address major national issues through a single platform, rather than investing in a different system for every issue. The EASOS architecture allows fast and flexible development of satellite-based tools and applications tailored to each new specific issue.

It’s estimated that EASOS will enable a 10% reduction in the annual cost of flood events in Malaysia, around US$91.2 million. Estimates of increased economic growth with long-term monetary benefits total up to US$127 million annually.

Malaysia receives some of the highest annual rainfall on the planet, around 288cm (the UK gets just 122cm).

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