Wed, 21 Apr 2021

Simplifying compliance with federal reporting requirements.

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VertiGIS Studio affords us the ability to rapidly adapt to future technological needs. In this case, we were able to use it to address a change in technology (the rise of the cell phone and the downfall of browser plug-ins) that was not foreseen during the original project. ” – Karl McArthur, PE, Supervising Engineer

– Floodplain Office and Floodplain Early Warning

The Challenge

FEMA’s 2005 Floodplain Map Modernization Program was a major federal effort to improve the quality and accuracy of floodplain information. The City of Austin was an active participant in this process, and created an extensive set of GIS-based floodplain models and maps. With the improved data, requests from both City staff and the public for floodplain-related information increased significantly. Eventually, the City reached a crossroads: either hire more staff or build a public-facing web application to automate the distribution of floodplain-related information. The City spent a few years searching for a solution, and in 2011 found VertiGIS. 

The City needed a solution that is stable and well supported for the foreseeable future. It needed to be HTML5/JavaScript-based, work on mobile devices, be operating system- and browser-neutral, and have an easy-to-use interface. Lastly, they wanted a solution they could program themselves, leveraging existing in-house hardware and software. 

The Solution

FloodPro is a public-facing application that allows the general public to retrieve property-specific floodplain information and download supporting floodplain models. It also allows for property-specific maps and reports to be printed for information purposes, or for inclusion with building permit applications. 

FloodPro primarily serves three different user types: 

• Homeowners: FloodPro gives citizens access to floodplain-related information that was previously accessible only by City staff. The type of information ranges from official FEMA information to local development data to answering simple questions (i.e. “Am I in the floodplain?”). 

• Developers: Having on-demand access to the latest version of the City’s floodplain models and supporting data helps developers design their projects quicker and ensure they are using the best available data. 

• Real Estate Agents: The mobile version of FloodPro allows real estate agents to look up a property’s floodplain status while showing that property to a client to ensure all parties are aware of potential flood risks. 

The Result

The robust FloodPro web application is operating system-agnostic and is built on a platform that will be well supported long into the future. The City tracks the number of floodplain information reports generated and floodplain models downloaded; they’ve reported that FloodPro averages approximately 2,000 to 3,000 of these activities per month. Using the application, the City has been able to free up a staff time equivalent of 1.5 full time employees, and reassign time for work on other important projects. 

Going forward, the City plans to make FloodPro their one-stop-shop for floodplain and storm drainage system model and data distribution. They have already expanded upon the original solution to add visualization tools for a major upcoming change to floodplain mapping, and are adding functionality that will provide models and associated information for the storm drainage system. 

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