Some European cities are turning to Big Data to not only predict the weather and its potential impact, but also to address public safety and business concerns that accompany adverse conditions. Below, Djeevan Schiferli argues that the ability to make better use of all this data can dramatically improve the way cities, businesses and citizens plan for and manage the harsh conditions that extreme weather throws at our urban centres.
In recent months, many parts of Europe have been exposed to extreme weather episodes that have significantly disrupted day-to-day life, stretched emergency response services and most sadly, resulted in tragic loss of human life.
The statistics are intimidating. The European Environment Agency lists more than 175 major floods over the last 10 years, and predicts that flooding and other severe weather conditions will only continue to increase due to climate change.
In the UK, the River Thames reached record high levels in February 2014. Further downstream, the Thames Flood Barrier has closed a record 28 times since December 2013, representing one-fifth of all closures since it was inaugurated in the 1980s.
In the German city of Magdeburg, 23,000 people were forced to leave their homes last year after a dam burst on the flood-swollen River Elbe.