Case studies

The Life Safety Model (LSM) has been validated for a number of historical floods including:

  • The Malpasset Dam disaster that occurred in France in 1959. The above photo shows the remains of the dam which failed on 2 December 1959.
  • The Great North Sea Flood of 1953 that inundated Canvey Island in the Thames Estuary resulting in the deaths of 58 people.
  • The Brumadinho tailings dam disaster which took place in Brazil in 2019.

The LSM has been used to help to improve the emergency response of coastal communities in Canada to tsunamis and assist emergency planners in Lincolnshire in the UK. Organisations in Canada, Italy, Malaysia and Australia are using the LSM to support a range of flood and emergency plans.

The LSM has been used worldwide to improve emergency planning for dams and floods.

Recent applications

Brumadinho tailings dam failure, January 2019 in Brazil

Animation of  the LSM modelling showing the mudflow in blue and the people in its path as dots

In January 2019 the Brumadinho tailings dam in Brazil failed releasing some 10 million cubic metres of mining waste downstream which killed approximately 300 people. The LSM was used to assess how the number of fatalities could have been potentially reduced by employing an improved warning system and using different evacuation strategies.

Evacuation modelling for the Humber Estuary in the UK

LSM applied to the Humber Estuary
Evacuation modelling using the LSM for the Humber Estuary.

The LSM was used as part of a tiered traffic modelling approach to investigate how long it would take for mass evacuation of the area in advance of a major storm surge, such as the one which happened in 1953. This utilised the new feature of ‘running in the dry’. The ‘micro’ modelling carried out by the LSM for the east of the City of Hull showed that congestion would take place on the local road network, which had not been modelled in other approaches. This has raised the need for further investigation of how the local roads are used. The LSM produced evacuation times consistent with other methods, but provided a higher degree of resolution.

1953 Canvey Island tidal surge, Thames Estuary, UK

Animation of  Canvey Island LSM modelling showing the inundation and the people at risk

The LSM was set up for Canvey Island in the UK as part of a research project. The ground in Canvey Island is below mean sea level. In 1953 a coastal storm breached the flood defences and inundated the island resulting in 58 people dying. The LSM was benchmarked against the 1953 storm surge. In a further research project the LSM was used with a Monte Carlo simulation to assess the uncertainty in loss of life estimates to key parameters, as well as assessing how loss of life for a future flood could be reduced.

Evacuation planning for fluvial floods, Windsor, New South Wales, Australia

LSM evacuation model for Windsor, New South Wales, Australia

The town of Windsor in New South Wales can be isolated by floodwaters for several days. The early and complete evacuation of Windsor is necessary if a flood is forecast. The LSM was used to investigate the time needed for everyone to reach safety at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney prior to the flood arriving. The results of the LSM showed that a delaying an evacuation can lead to people being trapped in the town and were used to inform the town’s emergency management plan.