Once upon a time, Geosapiens...
Geosapiens, geospatial intelligence, is a nod to Homo Sapiens, the intelligent man. Its mission is to make geospatial tools accessible to decision-makers and land managers. They will then be able to make informed and intelligent decisions.
Before E-NUNDATION: GARI
The expertise at Geosapiens was developed at the Centre Eau Terre Environnement in the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) between 2012 and 2017. In fact, a group of researchers, under the leadership of Professor Karem Chokmani, started working on new models for dynamic flood risk mapping, paving the way for GARI (flood risk management and analysis)—considered the forerunner of E-NUNADATION.
The biggest problem with the tools available at the time was that they were designed by hydrologists for hydrologists. As a result, they were difficult to access for end-users, mainly crisis managers and emergency measures advisers. From the outset, the team relied on its multidisciplinary 'DNA' to simplify the information produced by hydrological and hydraulic models for decision-makers. The idea behind it being that they could use it without any special scientific and technical knowledge. Doing so by combining geomatic tools, statistical techniques and hydraulic modelling. In fact, the goal was to make the level of difficulty comparable to that of Google Earth. This principle has remained essential to Geosapiens. The technology behind E-NUNADATION is at the cutting edge of science but accessible to everyone.
E-NUNDATION: a tool for flood risk management
From the very beginning, the team wanted to focus on risk and not just on hazard assessment. Flood risk is the exposure of vulnerable elements (people, buildings or infrastructure) to a hazard, namely the overflow of a river or lake. This hazard is generally characterized by the extent of the flooded area and in some cases by the depth of submersion. Almost all existing tools are limited to the random component of risk. E-NUNADATION allows, for example, the calculation of human risk by determining the level of exposure based on the vulnerability of residences and the people who live there. This makes it possible to answer questions such as: Who is affected? Who is more vulnerable? Or, who needs to be evacuated first? This will simplify decisions in crisis situations. Thereafter, the assessment of material damage was integrated into the tool.
In cooperation with provincial and local authorities, the tool's functionalities were tested on the Yamaska River. This made it possible to quantify risks and develop various scenarios. The tool was also tested on real cases, particularly during the spring 2017 floods in Quebec. This helped to refine and enhance solutions.
It was then that the team members saw the tool's potential. After all, floods represent the most significant natural risk in terms of material damage and loss of human life in Quebec and Canada as well as elsewhere in the world. On the one hand, it allowed real-time monitoring of the situation using remote sensing tools. On the other hand, it provided the possibility to switch to forecasting mode by determining the best responses to various flood scenarios.
The company really takes off
The core group saw the potential of E-NUNADATION to prevent flood risks and the added value it brought to society and wanted to move forward. The seven founders of Geosapiens then asked themselves, Why not launch our own company?
The first test was the 2018 AquaHacking Challenge. This is a technology competition in which participants attempt to address critical water issues. For the team, it was a way to see if competent, unbiased people could also see the potential of the project. This was confirmed when E-NUNADATION was selected as a finalist. The project was gaining visibility and credibility. Later, E-NUNADATION walked away with the first prize.
That's when the company really took off! Since that time, Geosapiens' mission has been to offer society operational solutions to be better informed and more resilient in the face of natural disasters.