Quebec City-based Geosapiens has developed what it says is the first Canada-wide flood model from a Canadian firm that can precisely forecast flood risk.
Founded in 2017, CEO Hachem Agili told Sustainable Biz Canada in an interview his company has been developing its model for more than five years with the goal of preparing Canadian businesses and governments to face flooding risk.
Floods are the costliest and most frequent natural disaster in Canada, costing billions in damage, he said. Yet there were no flood models from a Canadian company that provided accurate coverage for the whole country, according to Agili. He sought to fill this gap with Geosapiens’ model.
With the frequency and intensity of floods in Canada expected to increase due to global warming and population growth in flood-prone areas, he said it is important to address the rising costs of floods in advance.
“With our model, we are able to map the flood risk for each stream, river and lake . . . previously there were many areas that had never been modelled. So we are coming with comprehensive data coverage.”
Flood modelling by Canada for Canada
Geosapiens' team is comprised mainly of scientists and flood modelling experts who cover disciplines such as hydrology, statistics and geographic information systems, according to Agili.
The company's predictions are based on topography and hydrological data primarily sourced from government agencies like Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada. The model is updated annually, he added.
After receiving the data, Geosapiens inputs the information into its algorithm which generates flood maps at a one metre spatial resolution where Lidar data is available, meaning it can assess the flood risk per metre. In areas where Lidar data is unavailable, spatial resolution is 30 metres.
“This data is very useful to accurately assess the risk, especially at the property or business level.” For the insurance industry, Geosapiens’ risk model can help provide flood insurance coverage by providing the data to forecast risk for insurance companies.
Before Geosapiens, Agili said Canada lacked a model made by Canadians. Geosapiens kicked off operations last fall covering just Quebec, and later expanded the model to all of Canada.
The main differentiator between his company and international peers is that Geosapiens has an understanding of the Canadian context, as it is calibrated using Canadian data. This ensures more precise forecasts, rather than using global data applied to Canada, he continued.
It can be used to find new flood-prone areas in all provinces or confirm the risks in well-known areas with flood risk exposure like Calgary, Ottawa and parts of the Greater Toronto Area.
The flood model is offered for an annual subscription fee to the insurance industry, municipalities and professionals such as real estate agents or building inspectors. It is delivered either as an API so clients can analyze more specific locations, or accessed on a web portal so data analysis can be done and maps can be created.
He did not disclose the names of its clients, but Agili said Geosapiens collaborates with federal, provincial and municipal governments.
Geosapiens’ next steps
After completing its coverage of Canada, Geosapiens plans to go bigger in scale, its CEO said. The growth plan is to expand to the international market, particularly the U.S.
Geosapiens is also finalizing its fluvial (river) model for a comprehensive flood coverage solution.
After raising its first funds with Co-operators two years ago, Agili is hoping to raise more funds to accelerate the company's go-to-market strategy with the help of strategic investors.