RMS Backs Tech Improvements to Support Gathering of Real-Time Hurricane Data by FCMP

February 16, 2005

Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a provider of products and services for the management of catastrophe risk, announced that it will fund technology improvements for the Florida Coastal Monitoring Program that will support its collection of real-time wind speed data during major hurricanes.

The Florida Coastal Monitoring Program (FCMP) is a joint venture to
develop full-scale experimental methods to quantify near-surface hurricane wind behavior and resulting loads on residential structures.

The program’s aim is to provide data necessary to identify methods to cost-effectively reduce hurricane wind damage to residential structures. The FCMP is sponsored by the Florida Department of Community Affairs, and its participants include the University of Florida, Clemson University, Florida International University, Institute for Business & Home Safety, and Florida Institute of Technology.

FCMP’s research program involves the recording of hurricane wind speeds using mobile collection towers. These towers are placed strategically along the coast as a hurricane approaches in order to collect wind speed data at critical points within the storm’s swath of damaging winds. This data is used for a variety of applied and research applications.

The data was previously delivered during the storm landfall using cell
phone technology, which proved vulnerable to interruption. RMS funding will equip all of the FCMP’s mobile units with satellite uplink hardware, allowing the units to relay data more reliably during a storm’s passage. The data will be transmitted directly to a NOAA satellite and be available in real-time from the FCMP Web site — http://users.ce.ufl.edu/~fcmp/ — for public and research access. RMS will make use of the data to improve real-time windfield estimates
as a storm is making landfall, and just after landfall.

“The previous cellular data relay system was dependent on the storm
picking a ‘good cell’ region for landfall and relied on cell phone towers to remain online during the storm,” said Kurt Gurley, associate professor of civil and coastal engineering at the University of Florida. “The new satellite relay system will function reliably regardless of where the storm comes ashore. The ability to transmit wind speed data reliably as the storm makes landfall will provide critical information about storm severity to emergency managers, atmospheric scientists, and risk modelers on the fly.”

“Most permanent wind recording stations are prone to power outages during intense storms, so the FCMP data provide a critical groundtruth to the detailed meteorological windfield reconstructions,” added Robert Muir-Wood, RMS chief research officer.

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