Real-time flood projection system to be tested in Tokyo

A team of scientists from Waseda University, the University of Tokyo, and the Remote Sensing Technology Center of Japan devised a computer system that predicts flood levels 30 minutes into the future in Tokyo’s 23 wards in real time.

Flood map of Tokyo’s 23 wards by S-uiPS for the torrential rain that occurred in 2005

The new system, called Sekine’s urban inundation Prediction System (S-uiPS), provides more accurate forecasts than currently existing ones. Waseda Professor Masato Sekine, an expert on hydraulics and river engineering whom the system is named after, hopes that the system will ease damages caused by floods.

“Unprecedented heavy rain due to global climate change will cause serious flooding in Tokyo, and perhaps even trigger life-threatening situations. For instance, an ambulance may not be able to reach out to people in need of help if a flood in an underpass causes a traffic jam,” Sekine said.

“Real-time flood projection can help government officials implement appropriate countermeasures, such as closing off underpasses and planning the best alternative route for vehicles.”

S-uiPS takes into account comprehensive data related to the latest urban infrastructure, including data on how the sewage system and streets are connected to rivers, as well as rainfall data from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and rain forecast data from the Japan Meteorological Agency to predict floods.

Additionally, the high-speed processing of massive data, made possible by Eiji Ikoma and Akio Yamamoto of the University of Tokyo, allows S-uiPS to display and distribute flood maps in video format instead of still images, which are more common with other projection systems that utilized simple calculation models.

It is possible to apply this new method to other cities in Japan and overseas if a database that summarizes information the urban structure of these areas can be created.

S-uiPS is scheduled for launch on a trial basis by the end of June this year, and its stable operation is expected to be ready by the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

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