Flood Mitigation Planning Receives Technological Boost

DHI Water & Environment and PBS&J Join to Integrate Flood Models and GIS Solutions

November 2, 2004 – The average annual costs from flood damage have increased dramatically over the past half-century, from $1.5 billion in 1950 to $4 billion today.  Between 1995 and 1999 alone, flood damages topped $40 billion.  Sound flood mitigation planning and watershed management are key to preventing loss of life and property caused by flooding.

DHI Water & Environment and PBS&J have signed a strategic collaboration agreement to develop and promote the technological tools and expertise for flood modeling and watershed management.  The team will work on integrating DHI’s state-of-the-art flood modeling technologies with PBS&J’s Watershed Analyst™, a powerful GIS framework.

“We’re extremely excited about working toward a more seamless integration of DHI’s modeling tools with our GIS technology and solutions,” said PBS&J Vice President Donna Huey.  “This type of collaboration generates new ideas and synergies that will provide flood managers with a powerful set of tools for assessing and comparing the benefits of alternative flood mitigation strategies in an intuitive and highly visual manner.” 

In the first phase of the collaboration, DHI and PBS&J have worked together to integrate the MIKE 11 model, DHI’s leading river hydraulics and hydrology modeling software, into PBS&J’s Watershed Analyst package. This step allows users of Watershed Analyst to easily transform their raw data, stored in Watershed Analyst, into the data files required to run a hydraulics and hydrology model using the advanced simulation capabilities of MIKE 11.

In the second phase, DHI will help to commercialize Watershed Analyst and DFIRM Tools 2 and make these advanced tools commercially available to flood managers and consultants.  This will accomplish two goals: put better tools in the hands of the people who need them, and get feedback from as many people as possible in order to continue to develop and improve these tools.  This phase is currently under way, with the first release of the Watershed Analyst and DFIRM Tools 2 set for December 2004.

The third phase of the collaborative focuses on joint development and maintenance of these tools, with contributions of requirements, design specifications, and software components from both PBS&J and DHI.

Michael Blongewicz, DHI’s GIS Resource Group Manager, adds, “GIS is quickly becoming an integral component in modeling and modeling software. The functional gap between GIS and the models needs to be bridged. This integration – along with improved connectivity to databases – is increasingly important.  The market is its infancy and is wide open, as evidenced by growing interest in and acceptance of ESRI’s Arc Hydro data model.  The user base is expanding and using Arc Hydro for a whole range of applications, from simple mapping to more complex integration of data management and multi-dimensional modeling.”

"Being a GIS extension is now an even bigger asset," adds Huey. "ESRI’s new Model Builder lets us string together Watershed Analyst tools with the whole universe of GIS tools for unprecedented power to automate processes."

Mr. Jorgen Bo Neilsen, DHI Software Manager, states, “One of the primary goals of this collaboration is to combine DHI’s numerical modeling expertise with PBS&J’s GIS capabilities in order to deliver a completely integrated flood data management and modeling solution.  We feel the collaboration with PBS&J will serve to strengthen each of our positions in the industry, and our combined development efforts will further advance the state-of-the-art in flood modeling and management technology.”
About DHI
DHI Water & Environment is internationally recognized as a leader in the development, application and innovation of advanced numerical modeling techniques and software products for simulating water movement and water quality.  DHI’s comprehensive suite of software products are capable of modeling water flow and water quality in nearly all aspects of life; from rivers and lakes to oceans and shorelines, from overland flow to groundwater flow, and from stormwater collection systems to water distribution systems.

DHI Water and Environment is one of the pioneers within the development of integrated water resource systems and flood management tools including MIKE 11 and MIKE FLOOD. These tools combine state-of-the-art modeling technologies and GIS information systems to enable accurate, effective and reliable flood modeling, flood mapping and evaluation of flood control measures. Flood mapping of historical floods and design events can be combined with other geographical information in a detailed assessment of the risk and potential damage of floods. Maps showing the potential flood extent, duration, depths or velocities form a sound basis for emergency planning and for raising the awareness of authorities and the endangered population.
About PBS&J
PBS&J (www.pbsj.com) is an employee-owned firm that provides infrastructure planning, engineering, construction management, and program management services to public and private clients.  PBS&J offers a full range of flood planning and design services and integrated multidisciplinary teams of engineers, hydrologists, ecologists, and information technology experts. PBS&J provides the tools and expertise to estimate current and future flood flow rates and flow stages for systems of streams, channels, culverts, and bridges.  Moreover, PBS&J’s Information Solutions Division has developed many powerful GIS- and Web-based automated tools that reduce the overall effort in preparing these plans.  Two examples of these tools are Watershed Analyst and DFIRM Tools 2.

Watershed Analyst is a software tool specifically designed to support more efficient GIS-based stormwater modeling. This extension to ESRI’s ArcGIS product provides a common platform for the integration of many stormwater models, including NFF, HEC-1, HEC-2, HEC-HMS, HEC-RAS, and SWMM.  DFIRM Tools 2 is also an ArcGIS extension that provides GIS analysts with a suite of customized tools to facilitate the production of digital insurance rate maps (DFIRM) and make DFIRM database creation easier and more automated.