Digital Disruption Gives Natural Disasters the Heave Ho and Makes Car Insurance Instant

Posted on August 7, 2016


Academic research harnesses an open source digital tool to reduce the impact of natural hazards around the world. And if you want car cover fast, just app it. Digital disruption. Sweet.

When you need to know the risks, ThinkHazard!

When you need to know the risks, ThinkHazard!

First up, the serious stuff. Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) were part of a World Bank initiative behind the free open source tool ThinkHazard! aiming to find and reduce the impact of natural disasters across the globe.

ThinkHazard! analyses data from local, national and global hazards including flooding, earthquakes, landslides, drought and Tsunamis to give people in poor countries vital information on risk. David Petley, a professor at UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, gave his data on fatalities from landslides worldwide as a benchmark for hazard assessment maps, as well as advice on management.

“On average around 14,000 people are killed by landslides each year – particularly in parts of Central America, South Asia and South-East Asia. Assessing the potential disaster risk is critical for development experts, project developers, planners, officials and other decision makers,” said Prof Petley.

User Data Increases ThinkHazard! Power

It is a simple tool that allows people to see the hazard level in any location around the world, said Prof Petley. “It draws on multiple data sources to provide the level of hazard, and is set up to become increasingly comprehensive over time as users contribute new data and information. The tool’s main aim is to make understanding of hazard risk more accessible and increase the resilience of projects around the world. It also provides vital recommendations and resources to help address those risks.”

ThinkHazard! will be used by agencies around the world and the hope is that it will save lives in future, he added. Visit the ThinkHazard! Website at for more information.

Probably not your car and good luck getting insurance.

Probably not your car and good luck getting insurance.

Insurance By The Hour

An Uber for car insurance you say? Well, maybe. Digital disruption comes in all shapes and sizes. Slightly hip, kinda street name – check. Time saving, if not essential – check. Mobile – of course. Cuvva allows drivers to get cover by the hour and up to a day, so short term. Hardly the stuff of revolutions, but handy all the same.

Cuvva’s second version app ‘The Social Garage’ allows users to see which of their Facebook friends have cars available for them to borrow directly through the app. By leveraging the Facebook graph is allows people to lend their cars, for a cash contribution, to trusted friends and no-one else.

How Rural Scotland Changed Car Insurance

Sounds neat, though I’ve not used it. For folks who need cover like, yesterday, or are into the sharing economy – part hire, part insurance – it’s a big deal. Founder Freddy McNamara grew up in rural Scotland and was frequently let down by shoddy bus services. He saw an opportunity to harness the idle motors of friends and family and create a tricksy business model at the same time.

In Freddy’s words: “We’ve turned a process that normally takes an hour, into a 10 second, on-demand service on your smartphone. What Uber have done for booking a taxi, we have now done for getting Cuvva’d.”

Check out the iOS app here and share a little.