Inspired by the same modeling used to predict the pandemic spread, researchers have created a model to accurately forecast floodwater spread and recession in urban road networks. With this new approach, researchers have created a simple and powerful mathematical approach to solve a complex problem.
The contagion model, Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Recovered (SEIR), maps the spread of infectious diseases mathematically. Dr. Ali Mostafavi and his team integrated the SEIR model and discovered the probability of flooding depends on the degree to which the nearby road segments are flooded.
Translated to flooding, susceptible is a road that could flood because it is in a flood plain; exposed is a road that has flooding due to rainwater or overflow from a nearby channel; infected is a road that is flooded and cannot be used; recovered is a road where the floodwater has receded.
The team verified the model with historical flooding data in Harris County during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The results show the model can monitor and predict the evolution of flooded roads over time.