The 2021 European floods, which affected large parts of Germany and Belgium, claimed the lives of 209 people and cost more than €30 billion in damage. Such catastrophic floods are becoming more common Ordinary as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
While there is no easy solution to flood prevention, there are ways we can be better prepared for it. One company rising to this challenge is Norwegian climate technology startup 7Analytics.
Founded in 2020 by a team of data scientists and geologists, the startup aims to help municipalities and businesses better predict flooding and minimize damage to infrastructure.
The startup’s flagship offering, FloodCube, applies AI and machine learning to vast amounts of terrain and land use data to predict how a future flood will unfold.
While the weather forecast tells you when a storm is approaching, 7Analytics tells you exactly How the waters of this storm will travel through your community, to meter-scale accuracy.
Recent developments in computing power and AI couldn’t have come at a better time for the startup. “These technologies enable us to analyze data and generate predictive insights in a way that was impossible just a few years ago,” said Jonas Aas Torland, co-founder and CCO of 7analytics.
While there are a handful of other companies in the US and Australia in this area, Jonas says none of them offer such high-resolution data, nor are they constantly reprocessing data to account for physical changes in the landscape.
For governments or companies looking to minimize damage to infrastructure, the value of these predictive insights cannot be underestimated. “Knowing how a flood will happen in the future gives you the gift of time,” Jonas told TNW.
“Our platform can tell you if there will be a flood in your area of interest and can provide 72-hour advance warnings so you can take all necessary actions to protect workers and assets,” he says.
These insights are also of interest to insurers, who are always looking for more accurate ways to predict future risks to assets.
So far, 7Analytics has signed contracts with, among others, the municipality of Bergen, construction giant Skanska and most recently the French oil conglomerate Total Energies.
The startup brought a €2.5 million secured its first round of funding last year, looks set to expand its customer base in both Europe and the US.
Adapting to the new climate reality
Investors are collapsing trillions in climate mitigation technologies, such as renewables and electric cars, in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. While essential, it is increasingly recognized that investing in technologies that help humanity to adjust to a changing climate is an equally urgent priority.
By 2021, however, less than $50 billion – or just 10% of all climate finance — was allocated to adaptation measures such as flood and wildfire prevention, resilient agriculture and clean water supply.
This is partly because investments have often been made in climate adaptation technology considered as the domain of NGOs and government, not private capital, partly because of the mistaken perception that there is no money to be made. But this perspective seems to be shifting.
Bill Gates’ pioneering energy ventures promised last year to expand its scope to climate adaptation technologies, while water technology company Gradiant – which helps companies reduce water use – achieved “unicorn” status last month after raising $225 million.
Michiel de Bruin, portfolio manager of the Dutch investment company Robeco, say that recent climate disasters are a “wake-up call”, bringing “more attention to adaptation”.
Jonas believes solutions like his flood prevention platform are part of this new wave of climate adaptation technology. The startup is now planning its Series A funding round for next year and is looking to expand its offerings to predict landslides and other natural hazards.