The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate recently released its Report on Alerting Tactics, which recognizes the Iowa Flood Center’s (IFC) advances in providing superior flood-related information for Iowans. The center’s Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS) provides an online one-stop shop for people to access community-based, real-time flood information, forecasts, and visualizations. Since its public launch in March 2011, IFIS has had nearly 3 million page views.
The report highlights new technologies currently being developed by IFC Associate Research Engineer Ibrahim Demir, including “Flood AI,” an artificial intelligence system, as well as holograms that show projected flood maps. Flood AI is like Siri or Alexa, allowing users to ask questions related to flooding in their area and receive immediate responses.
“It’s like talking to a friend who happens to be a flood expert,” Demir says.
Holograms provide a visual platform to show the extent and depth of predicted flood waters. These unique visualizations help people process information faster, allowing first responders to better understand the potential impacts to their community and to react sooner and with more confidence to flood events.
The recent fall flooding across central and eastern Iowa is a reminder that we need to continue to develop and improve technologies to lessen flood impacts. As rainfall becomes more widespread and intense, Iowans will rely on easy access to the IFC’s critical information that will help them stay informed during a flood event.
The Iowa Flood Center is based at the University of Iowa and is the only academic center in the nation solely devoted to flood research. In 2019, the center will celebrate a decade of serving Iowans and helping to build a more flood resilient state.