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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 29 Jun 2020

Submitted as: research article | 29 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Are new open building data useful for flood vulnerability modelling?

Marco Cerri, Max Steinhausen, Heidi Kreibich, and Kai Schröter Marco Cerri et al.
  • German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ, Section Hydrology, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. Flood risk modelling aims to quantify the probability of flooding and the resulting consequences for exposed elements. The assessment of flood damage is a core task that requires the description of complex flood damage processes including the influences of flooding intensity and vulnerability characteristics. Multi-variable modelling approaches are better suited for this purpose than simple stage-damage functions. However, multi-variable flood vulnerability models also often have problems to predict damage for regions other than those for which they have been developed. A transfer of vulnerability models usually results in a drop of model predictive performance. Here we investigate the question of whether data from the open data source OpenStreetMap is suitable to model flood vulnerability of residential buildings and whether the underlying standardized data model is helpful to transfer models across regions. We develop a new data set by calculating numerical spatial measures for residential building footprint geometries and combine these variables with an empirical data set of observed flood damage. From this data set random forest regression models are learned using regional sub-sets and are tested for predicting flood damage in other regions. This regional split-sample validation approach reveals that the predictive performance of models based on OpenStreetMap data is comparable to alternative multi-variable models, which use comprehensive and detailed information about preparedness, socio-economic status and other aspects of residential building vulnerability. However, our results show that using numerical spatial measures derived from OpenStreetMap building geometries does not resolve all problems of model transfer. Still, we conclude that these variables are useful proxies for flood vulnerability modelling, because these data are consistent, openly accessible, and thus make it easier and more cost-effective to transfer vulnerability models to other regions.

Marco Cerri et al.

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Marco Cerri et al.

Marco Cerri et al.


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Latest update: 05 Jul 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Effective flood management requires information about the potential consequences of flooding. We show how openly accessible data from OpenStreetMap can support the estimation of flood damage for residential buildings. Working with methods of machine learning, the building geometry is used to predict flood damage in combination with information about inundation depth. Our approach makes it easier to transfer models to regions where no detailed data of flood impacts have been observed yet.
Effective flood management requires information about the potential consequences of flooding. We...