NICTA tool to help manage natural disasters

Article originally published in CIO by Rebecca Merrett (CIO) 23 June, 2015.

National ICT Australia (NICTA) has created a tool that helps governments and insurance companies better manage locations prone to natural disasters and reduce their impact when they occur.

The data visualisation tool, Global Risk Map, is part of the Global Resilience Project for the United Nations-endorsed Principles of Sustainable Insurance (PSI) initiative. Insurance company IAG is leading the project, with NICTA helping provide technology solutions for it.


“The whole aim of that project is deepen the understanding of disaster reduction globally, get an insight into what works and what doesn’t, and enable us to assess the social, economic and environmental cost of disasters,” said Leona Murphy, IAG chief strategy officer, who put forward the Global Resilience Project to the United Nations Environmental Program board last year.

“It’s to identify the areas of high vulnerability. We do that by looking at the insurance density and insurance penetration. A country most vulnerable will be one that has a really high impact from a social and economic disaster perspective, but low insurance density and vulnerably,” Murphy told CIO.

The online map allows users to overlay hundreds of datasets sourced from governments and the UN to visualise where different kinds of natural disasters have occurred with their population densities. Users can also drag and drop their own spreadsheets onto the map, and recognises latitude-longitude, postcodes and Australian Bureau of Statistics Mesh Blocks.

The software was developed by NICTA subsidiary, Terria, and is similar to NICTA’s National Map released last year.

“We’ve open sourced everything that you see here under a licensing system and the software is called Terria JS,” said Peter Leihn, director of environment at NICTA.

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