Following hurricanes Irma and Maria, FEMA needed to inspect all impacted buildings within the Special Flood Hazard Area to determine if they were more than fifty percent damaged. Historically, this has been a very labor-intensive process that required a team of two to three people spend an hour at each damaged structure to conduct inspections. The sheer size of the disaster made this an impossible task. It would take several years to get through all the buildings using the traditional process.
The strategy was to use Alteryx to estimate the structural damage that had occurred, prioritize areas that still needed some sort of human inspection, and ultimately reduce the total number of in-person inspections so that the recovery process could begin quickly. Alteryx was used to blend over a dozen data sets and the following variables to predict damage:
- Building style
- Wind speed
- Flood levels
- Elevation levels
- Structure type
- Wind exposure
- Construction quality
Atkins determined that they needed to get three functional groups of teams out to the field quickly. The first team used a geographic information system (GIS) to find the locations of damaged structures. The second team collected the information on the structures, and the third team built the analytics model in Alteryx.
The data that was feeding the model came from very disparate sources. They accessed data from the European Union, NOAA, the National Weather Service, FEMA, and the Army Corps of Engineers. This data was stored in various formats that required cleansing prior to blending, and creation of indices between the data set. Alteryx was used for all of these tasks.