Innovator Challenge


Innovator Challenge: How Might We Help Reduce Flooding Fatalities?

Floods, especially flash floods, kill more people each year than hurricanes, tornadoes, or wind storms on average.  Historically, over half of all flood deaths have occurred when vehicles are swept away due to moving water. You can find more about flood damage and data from, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Flood Safety Page, and our Floods page.


An example of the toll of flash flooding can be seen from recent experiences in Arizona:

We’ve seen first-hand the deadly results of flash floods.  The challenge is knowing where and when exactly the floods will take place and staying in front of the impending natural disaster.  With no control over mother nature, we must continue to be aggressive with our preventative messaging through both traditional and social media, constantly highlighting the dangers of flash flooding.

Once the flooding does take place, it is imperative that all departments, from public safety to transportation, have enough resources on hand and the flexibility to move resources as necessary.

We have always had to play defense with regards to nature and what it brings to us in the way of the monsoon rains, but with social media and real time updates through the National Weather Service, we have the opportunity to be on offense in both predicting where the danger will be and educating the public on those dangers.

-Deputy Chief Chris Anderson,

Operations / Emergency Management, Tucson Fire Department


To help share existing and emerging solutions that can help, we are asking innovators across the nation: “How might we leverage real-time sensors, open data, social media, and other tools to help reduce the number of fatalities from flooding?”

To participate, send a one-page description of your idea/prototype that can be shared with disaster preparedness stakeholders to


Be sure to include details about how your approach/technology addresses the challenge, and any existing results or plans for building, testing, and improving upon your solution.  We look forward to highlighting innovations in the coming months!

For examples of previous prototypes built and demonstrated at events supporting the Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative, read more about the Civic Hardware Hackathon for Disaster PreparednessWhite House Demo Day, and Safety Datapalooza.