The New Data Stack for Flood Peril

If you’re in the flood peril business you are balancing the operations of your business with continuous improvement.  There is no easy button. You’re trying to improve your analytical decision making while finding the data fuel that powers your analytics.  The data wrangling and data sourcing becomes an immense task that takes you and your organization away from creating the new analytical methods that keep you at the top of your industry.  

Determining individual property flood risk, calculating premium pricing, evaluating large scale catastrophe peril – your decisions are a function of your analytics and geospatial data.  BuildingFootprintUSA’s innovative data provides the ingredients for your increasingly sophisticated analysis.


At BuildingFootprintUSA, we talk to customers in the flood industry who want a few things:
  • You want to access data that supports sophisticated flood analytics decision-making 
  • You want to use both basic and more complex next generation datasets and models 
  • You need to see the value of these new data solutions – new analytics on top of new data should drive lower implementation costs, more accurate peril identification resulting in accurate pricing, reduced uncertainty, and higher customer satisfaction

We built the New Data Stack for Flood Peril to support your flood analytics and decision making.  Implement and utilize the data elements at your pace.   We will use two properties to demonstrate these new data element – a higher value residential home on an acre of land, and a large commercial manufacturing facility.  Both of these properties are in areas of growing flood risk.

Typically, flood determination is performed in one of two ways.  You test a building’s parcel to determine if it intersects a flood zone, or a point geocode (street level, postcode level, parcel centroid) would approximate the location of the building and would be used as the testing point.  With either method you use an approximation for your high dollar decision.

How can our new data stack provide you with the ingredients that you need to make better, higher accuracy decisions?

1. Rooftop Geocoding 

The starting point for the data stack is the rooftop geocode.  If you only use one thing in our data, use this – a rooftop geocode that pinpoints the location of the building.  At the very least you will know that the point falls on the building and not at the side of a nearby street, or at some location tens or hundreds of yards from the actual building.

2. Building Footprint Geocoding 

Move up to addressed building footprint data.  Our addressed building footprints capture every structure on the property.  The building footprint advantage is that you can test the entire building against a flood zone.  For multi-building properties you can assess each structure’s risk, or create an aggregated risk of all buildings.

3. High Accuracy Ground Elevation

Analyze a property against historical and modeled flood stage measurements with confidence using high accuracy Ground Elevation at one meter resolution. Understand a building’s minimum, maximum and average ground elevation determined through highest accuracy methods.

4. Perimeter Ground Elevation

Most buildings don’t have a single consistent ground elevation; they are built on uneven ground and one portion of a building may be a few feet or dozens of feet higher or lower than another point on the building.  Analyze every vertex of a building with Perimeter Ground Elevation (PGE) to understand the level of exposure within or across the building.

5. First Floor Elevation 

If the building has a high level of peril, what is the specific peril for the first floor?  First Floor Elevation calculations determine how high the first floor is above the ground level.  Does the commercial building’s first floor sit right on the foundation?  Is the residential building an urban brownstone with a 10 step (8 foot) walkup, or a colonial with 4 steps up to the first floor (2.8 feet above ground level)?  Our First Floor Elevation calculation provides this detail.

6. Flood Modeling 

Using strength of water, greatest precipitation amount in a 48 hour period, elevation and distance to nearest floodable fresh water, we are able to determine whether or not a property will get impacted by rising floods originating inland. The model also considers thousand-year flood or catastrophic flood events. Additionally, you are able to look at saltwater originated flooding for the East and Gulf coasts. If a location is in a surge zone, we provide the level of inundation based upon strength of hurricane. The models are supported with transparency of inputs, weightings, and methods.

7. Digital Elevation Models 

Next generation analysis evaluates properties with respect to their surroundings, including topography.  Integrate our nationwide 1 meter digital elevation model (DEM) dataset into your solution.  Determine if a building is in an area that is lower or higher than the surrounding area, or on a convex or concave surface relative to its surroundings.

Learn More About the New Data Stack for Flood Peril

We can provide any of the elements to you for your experiments and what-if scenarios - you pick what you need.

Interested in hearing more? 

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LightBox acquires industry leader BuildingFootprintUSA™

IRVINE, CA – February 1, 2021 – LightBox, a leading provider of commercial real estate data and workflow solutions, announced the acquisition of BuildingFootprintUSA™, the premier provider of building and structure boundaries for location analytics. With this acquisition, LightBox will immediately make building footprints available to its customers.

Connecting BuildingFootprintUSA datasets to LightBox data will create the industry’s only fully integrated parcel, building structure, and property attribute datasets for comprehensive location intelligence across the commercial real estate, telecommunications, routing & logistics, and insurance markets, as well as the broader geospatial ecosystem.

“This acquisition demonstrates our ongoing commitment to innovation that serves the commercial real estate ecosystem. We’re looking to replace existing information silos with industry standard linked datasets. Our parcels and property data will now be integrated with rooftop-level geocodes, addresses, and boundaries,” said LightBox CEO, Eric Frank. “We strongly believe the future is one of connected datasets and we want to drive this change for the commercial real estate industry in the US and Canada.”

BuildingFootprintUSA was founded in 2016 in Albany, New York. The company serves customers of all size within commercial real estate, telecommunications, insurance, and mapping solutions with high-accuracy location data to facilitate accurate site selection, routing, spatial analysis and data visualization. Customers leverage building geometry, height, and ground elevation data to assist in determining potential flood risks, expanding broadband connectivity, policy planning for safety and security, and broader geospatial analytics.

“Joining LightBox gives us an exciting opportunity to grow and deliver our data and solutions to a broader segment of the commercial real estate market in the US and Canada,” said Karl Urich, founder and president of BuildingFootprintUSA. “By combining our datasets with those of LightBox, we will be able to offer the most accurate boundary, address, and geocoding dataset available.”

To learn more about how you can begin leveraging solutions that combine the best of BuildingFootprintUSA and LightBox today, please visit

LightBox is building the world’s leading real estate information and technology platform. LightBox customers comprise all types of enterprises needing authoritative real estate data and workflow solutions, including brokers, developers, investors, lenders, insurers, environmental consultants, corporations, technology companies, and valuation professionals. LightBox is backed by Silver Lake and Battery Ventures.

Learn More About LightBox at

At BFUSA LightBox, we develop next-generation geolocation data centered on the built environment — where people live, work, shop, and play. Our hyper-accurate building and address data helps customers make critical decisions that are highly dependent on location. Learn more about BFUSA.

Learn More About BFUSA