GovernmentCIO: Computing Advances, AI Make Waves for Flood Software at DHS

“Funding boosts in the modeling software that has been a cornerstone for federal agencies preparing and responding to natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, is enabling the Department of Homeland Security to better study coastal hazards in the U.S.

The software, called Advanced Circulation Storm Surge Model (ADCIRC), predominantly evaluates flooding hazards along the U.S. coasts. That data forms the basis for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps in coastal areas and helps determine flood insurance rates in those areas.

As a principal developer of the software, Rick Luettich leads the Coastal Resilience Center (CRC), a DHS Science and Technology Directorate Center of Excellence that is working to innovate the accuracy and timelines of storm surge models. The center is led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, made possible by a five-year, $20 million grant from the agency.

In recent years, the center has expanded ADCIRC’s capabilities ‘substantially,’ according to Luettich. This includes increasing capabilities in flooding predictions, storm forecasting, and planning around response and recovery.

‘A colleague and I started [the Coastal Resilience Center] prior to DHS’ existence with support from the Army Corps of Engineers back in the early 90s,’ Luettich told GovernmentCIO Media & Research about the center’s origins. ‘It was used to support the dredging program. As the early 2000s unfolded, we did more and more storm surge work with it. We were applying it in the greater New Orleans area prior to Hurricane Katrina. Once Katrina hit the area, it was a critical tool in the assessment of what went wrong. … DHS said we need a center that works with coastal natural hazards. Obviously this is a big center of concern.’

The software has also been proven to have cost benefits. According to a 2020 DHS report, ADCIRC ‘has by far the highest net present value (NPV), which was primarily due to the reduction of unnecessary evacuations during the hurricane season.’…” Read the full article here.

Source: Computing Advances, AI Make Waves for Flood Software at DHS – By Kate Macri, March 16, 2021. GovernmentCIO.


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