[open-sustainability] Open Platform project

Owen Boswarva owen.boswarva at gmail.com
Fri Feb 21 12:38:18 UTC 2014

Hi Jack, I'll see what I can find out.

I tweeted the original article back in 2011:


and then lost track of the project. Highly doubt it's open data in any real
sense though.

The article below was in the FT last month. Some of the players are the
same so it might be related but not sure yet.



Last updated: January 26, 2014 7:31 pm

Insurers shake up disaster modelling

By Alistair Gray in London

Insurers are aiming to transform the way in which natural disasters are
modelled with a groundbreaking system of their own as the industry tries to
scale back reliance on outside specialists that critics warn exert undue
influence on premiums.

The new venture, which 22 insurance groups including Allianz, Zurich and
the Lloyd's of London market have clubbed together to set up, is due to be
launched next week.

The project, which has backing from other institutions including technology
group IBM, the UK's Met Office and Columbia University in New York, is the
latest sign of the industry's determination to better understand its
exposure to costly disasters.

Catastrophes including floods three years ago in Thailand that cost
insurers more than $15bn, proved more costly than the industry projected
partly because they were inadequately modelled.

Companies including AIR Worldwide, Eqecat and RMS have carved out a
lucrative niche selling models to insurers, which use them to help price
their policies.

They combine disciplines ranging from actuarial science to geology and
analyse complex data to estimate losses arising from hypothetical disasters.

Examples include assessing the maximum damage to infrastructure from a
hurricane by simulating various projected strengths and paths.

However, some executives have that warned the industry relies too heavily
upon what critics call proprietary "black boxes".

Existing modelling companies are already trying to respond to the
industry's calls for more flexibility. Silicon Valley-based RMS, a
subsidiary of the UK's Daily Mail and General Trust, plans to launch its
own cloud-based platform in April.

But backers of the new "open source" system believe it offers a more
transparent alternative to the existing offerings.

One insider likened the framework to Linux, the free computer operating
system whose kernel forms the base of Android, which is widely used in
mobile phones.

It is being billed as a "toolkit" that will create common technical
standards and facilitate the development of models developed by insurers,
brokers and others.

The not-for-profit venture aims to allow insurers to more easily utilise
data from parties such as universities and other researchers and create a
more open market for models.

At its forthcoming launch in London, backers are likely to say the new
system will complement existing systems. Privately, however, people
involved say that it ultimately should help insurers, which spend millions
of pounds a year on models, cut costs.

The scheme is also being backed by brokers Aon Benfield, Guy Carpenter and

The industry is demanding more transparency from models partly because of
regulatory pressure under the forthcoming Solvency II rules to ensure
executives fully understand the risks they are taking.

Executives have raised concerns that adjustments to the assumptions that
underpin the proprietary models can lead to abrupt changes in their
projected losses.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014.

On Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 11:23 AM, Jack Townsend <jack at jacktownsend.net>wrote:

Hi Owen, Mike
> Do you know what came of this 2011 project to research an "open" platform
> an "online marketplace to exchange knowledge, data and modelling techniques
> between the government, disaster risk reduction and insurance sector".
> Quick google doesn't turn up anything on it from the the last year.
> thttp://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2011/open-platform
> http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/intellectual-property-research/open-platform
> Was this open data in any sense?
> Jack
> Web, Open Data & Sustainability University of Southampton
> @JackTownsend_  <https://twitter.com/JackTownsend_> jack at jacktownsend.net
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