skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on December 1, 2024

Title: Predicting road flooding risk with crowdsourced reports and fine-grained traffic data
The objective of this study is to predict road flooding risks based on topographic, hydrologic, and temporal precipitation features using machine learning models. Existing road inundation studies either lack empirical data for model validations or focus mainly on road inundation exposure assessment based on flood maps. This study addresses this limitation by using crowdsourced and fine-grained traffic data as an indicator of road inundation, and topographic, hydrologic, and temporal precipitation features as predictor variables. Two tree-based machine learning models (random forest and AdaBoost) were then tested and trained for predicting road inundations in the contexts of 2017 Hurricane Harvey and 2019 Tropical Storm Imelda in Harris County, Texas. The findings from Hurricane Harvey indicate that precipitation is the most important feature for predicting road inundation susceptibility, and that topographic features are more critical than hydrologic features for predicting road inundations in both storm cases. The random forest and AdaBoost models had relatively high AUC scores (0.860 and 0.810 for Harvey respectively and 0.790 and 0.720 for Imelda respectively) with the random forest model performing better in both cases. The random forest model showed stable performance for Harvey, while varying significantly for Imelda. This study advances the emerging field of smart flood resilience in terms of predictive flood risk mapping at the road level. In particular, such models could help impacted communities and emergency management agencies develop better preparedness and response strategies with improved situational awareness of road inundation likelihood as an extreme weather event unfolds.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1832662
NSF-PAR ID:
10481361
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Computational urban Science
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Computational Urban Science
Volume:
3
Issue:
1
ISSN:
2730-6852
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    Urban flooding is a major natural disaster that poses a serious threat to the urban environment. It is highly demanded that the flood extent can be mapped in near real-time for disaster rescue and relief missions, reconstruction efforts, and financial loss evaluation. Many efforts have been taken to identify the flooding zones with remote sensing data and image processing techniques. Unfortunately, the near real-time production of accurate flood maps over impacted urban areas has not been well investigated due to three major issues. (1) Satellite imagery with high spatial resolution over urban areas usually has nonhomogeneous background due to different types of objects such as buildings, moving vehicles, and road networks. As such, classical machine learning approaches hardly can model the spatial relationship between sample pixels in the flooding area. (2) Handcrafted features associated with the data are usually required as input for conventional flood mapping models, which may not be able to fully utilize the underlying patterns of a large number of available data. (3) High-resolution optical imagery often has varied pixel digital numbers (DNs) for the same ground objects as a result of highly inconsistent illumination conditions during a flood. Accordingly, traditional methods of flood mapping have major limitations in generalization based on testing data. To address the aforementioned issues in urban flood mapping, we developed a patch similarity convolutional neural network (PSNet) using satellite multispectral surface reflectance imagery before and after flooding with a spatial resolution of 3 meters. We used spectral reflectance instead of raw pixel DNs so that the influence of inconsistent illumination caused by varied weather conditions at the time of data collection can be greatly reduced. Such consistent spectral reflectance data also enhance the generalization capability of the proposed model. Experiments on the high resolution imagery before and after the urban flooding events (i.e., the 2017 Hurricane Harvey and the 2018 Hurricane Florence) showed that the developed PSNet can produce urban flood maps with consistently high precision, recall, F1 score, and overall accuracy compared with baseline classification models including support vector machine, decision tree, random forest, and AdaBoost, which were often poor in either precision or recall. The study paves the way to fuse bi-temporal remote sensing images for near real-time precision damage mapping associated with other types of natural hazards (e.g., wildfires and earthquakes). 
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Compound flooding is a physical phenomenon that has become more destructive in recent years. Moreover, compound flooding is a broad term that envelops many different physical processes that can range from preconditioned, to multivariate, to temporally compounding, or spatially compounding. This research aims to analyze a specific case of compound flooding related to tropical cyclones where the compounding effect is on coastal flooding due to a combination of storm surge and river discharge. In recent years, such compound flood events have increased in frequency and magnitude, due to a number of factors such as sea-level rise from warming oceans. Therefore, the ability to model such events is of increasing urgency. At present, there is no holistic, integrated modeling system capable of simulating or forecasting compound flooding on a large regional or global scale, leading to the need to couple various existing models. More specifically, two more challenges in such a modeling effort are determining the primary model and accounting for the effect of adjacent watersheds that discharge to the same receiving water body in amplifying the impact of compound flooding from riverine discharge with storm surge when the scale of the model includes an entire coastal line. In this study, we investigated the possibility of using the Advanced Circulation (ADCIRC) model as the primary model to simulate the compounding effects of fluvial flooding and storm surge via loose one-way coupling with gage data through internal time-dependent flux boundary conditions. The performance of the ADCIRC model was compared with the Hydrologic Engineering Center- River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) model both at the watershed and global scales. Furthermore, the importance of including riverine discharges and the interactions among adjacent watersheds were quantified. Results showed that the ADCIRC model could reliably be used to model compound flooding on both a watershed scale and a regional scale. Moreover, accounting for the interaction of river discharge from multiple watersheds is critical in accurately predicting flood patterns when high amounts of riverine flow occur in conjunction with storm surge. Particularly, with storms such as Hurricane Harvey (2017), where river flows were near record levels, inundation patterns and water surface elevations were highly dependent on the incorporation of the discharge input from multiple watersheds. Such an effect caused extra and longer inundations in some areas during Hurricane Harvey. Comparisons with real gauge data show that adding internal flow boundary conditions into ADCIRC to account for river discharge from multiple watersheds significantly improves accuracy in predictions of water surface elevations during coastal flooding events. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Flood nowcasting refers to near-future prediction of flood status as an extreme weather event unfolds to enhance situational awareness. The objective of this study was to adopt and test a novel structured deep-learning model for urban flood nowcasting by integrating physics-based and human-sensed features. We present a new computational modeling framework including an attention-based spatial–temporal graph convolution network (ASTGCN) model and different streams of data that are collected in real-time, preprocessed, and fed into the model to consider spatial and temporal information and dependencies that improve flood nowcasting. The novelty of the computational modeling framework is threefold: first, the model is capable of considering spatial and temporal dependencies in inundation propagation thanks to the spatial and temporal graph convolutional modules; second, it enables capturing the influence of heterogeneous temporal data streams that can signal flooding status, including physics-based features (e.g., rainfall intensity and water elevation) and human-sensed data (e.g., residents’ flood reports and fluctuations of human activity) on flood nowcasting. Third, its attention mechanism enables the model to direct its focus to the most influential features that vary dynamically and influence the flood nowcasting. We show the application of the modeling framework in the context of Harris County, Texas, as the study area and 2017 Hurricane Harvey as the flood event. Three categories of features are used for nowcasting the extent of flood inundation in different census tracts: (i) static features that capture spatial characteristics of various locations and influence their flood status similarity, (ii) physics-based dynamic features that capture changes in hydrodynamic variables, and (iii) heterogeneous human-sensed dynamic features that capture various aspects of residents’ activities that can provide information regarding flood status. Results indicate that the ASTGCN model provides superior performance for nowcasting of urban flood inundation at the census-tract level, with precision 0.808 and recall 0.891, which shows the model performs better compared with other state-of-the-art models. Moreover, ASTGCN model performance improves when heterogeneous dynamic features are added into the model that solely relies on physics-based features, which demonstrates the promise of using heterogenous human-sensed data for flood nowcasting. Given the results of the comparisons of the models, the proposed modeling framework has the potential to be more investigated when more data of historical events are available in order to develop a predictive tool to provide community responders with an enhanced prediction of the flood inundation during urban flood.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Smart resilience is the beneficial result of the collision course of the fields of data science and urban resilience to flooding. The objective of this study is to propose and demonstrate a smart flood resilience framework that leverages heterogeneous community-scale big data and infrastructure sensor data to enhance predictive risk monitoring and situational awareness. The smart flood resilience framework focuses on four core capabilities that could be augmented by the use of heterogeneous community-scale big data and analytics techniques: (1) predictive flood risk mapping; (2) automated rapid impact assessment; (3) predictive infrastructure failure prediction and monitoring; and (4) smart situational awareness capabilities. We demonstrate the components of these core capabilities of the smart flood resilience framework in the context of the 2017 Hurricane Harvey in Harris County, Texas. First, we present the use of flood sensors for the prediction of floodwater overflow in channel networks and inundation of co-located road networks. Second, we discuss the use of social media and machine learning techniques for assessing the impacts of floods on communities and sensing emotion signals to examine societal impacts. Third, we describe the use of high-resolution traffic data in network-theoretic models for nowcasting of flood propagation on road networks and the disrupted access to critical facilities, such as hospitals. Fourth, we introduce how location-based and credit card transaction data were used in spatial analyses to proactively evaluate the recovery of communities and the impacts of floods on businesses. These analyses show that the significance of core capabilities of the smart flood resilience framework in helping emergency managers, city planners, public officials, responders, and volunteers to better cope with the impacts of catastrophic flooding events.

     
    more » « less
  5. The identification of flood hazards during emerging public safety crises such as hurricanes or flash floods is an invaluable tool for first responders and managers yet remains out of reach in any comprehensive sense when using traditional remote-sensing methods, due to cloud cover and other data-sourcing restrictions. While many remote-sensing techniques exist for floodwater identification and extraction, few studies demonstrate an up-to-day understanding with better techniques in isolating the spectral properties of floodwaters from collected data, which vary for each event. This study introduces a novel method for delineating near-real-time inundation flood extent and depth mapping for storm events, using an inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based multispectral remote-sensing platform, which was designed to be applicable for urban environments, under a wide range of atmospheric conditions. The methodology is demonstrated using an actual flooding-event—Hurricane Zeta during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Referred to as the UAV and Floodwater Inundation and Depth Mapper (FIDM), the methodology consists of three major components, including aerial data collection, processing, and flood inundation (water surface extent) and depth mapping. The model results for inundation and depth were compared to a validation dataset and ground-truthing data, respectively. The results suggest that UAV-FIDM is able to predict inundation with a total error (sum of omission and commission errors) of 15.8% and produce flooding depth estimates that are accurate enough to be actionable to determine road closures for a real event.

     
    more » « less