Geosite: enabling geospatial intelligence

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Geosite has created a platform that enables users to access spatially relevant data to support their workflows. The company's software is used for a wide range of activities including speeding up search and rescue operations within the United States and improving insurance underwriting and claims processes. InsTech’s Ali Smedley caught up with Rachel Olney, Founder and CEO, about the genesis of Geosite, how it partners with third-party data providers and how the company supports other industries outside of insurance.

Rachel, what is your background and why did you found the company?

It was a long path to founding Geosite. My background is in mechanical engineering with a specialisation in manufacturing, so nothing to do with geospatial data or software! I used to work with teams across the Department of Defense (DoD), all of which were using a tremendous amount of spatial data - but they lacked a platform to bring together these disparate data sources. This is what led me to found Geosite. All of our first contracts were with the DoD, but we now provide our services to the commercial sector as well.

What does Geosite offer to assist underwriters?

Geosite’s Bedrock platform brings together a diverse range of geospatial data that underwriters can use to rate properties. This includes imagery and insights from sources such as satellites, drones, aircraft and stratospheric balloons. We also provide our customers with access to climate-related models, including those from Fathom and Previsico. Bedrock ingests and normalises this data to create a comprehensive view of risk that can then be fed directly into a client’s policy administration system.

There are a number of steps that need to happen between an underwriter receiving a new property address and subsequently rating that building. The first among these is geocoding (ensuring that a property address matches its actual latitude and longitude), which is more challenging than it may seem. On average, Geosite has found that only 30% of an insurance carrier’s portfolios are accurately geocoded. A property needs to be correctly geocoded in order to understand its attributes, so this is a critical first step and service that Geosite provides. 

Once we have accurately located a property, we correlate the building footprint to the range of data and models that we have available within Bedrock. This includes property attribute information, elevation data and predictive flood models. Bedrock then feeds this directly into any policy administration system that a client may have. For example, Socotra recently chose us as their geospatial platform provider. This means that when Socotra users type in an address, Geosite automatically provides them with the relevant property and risk data for that given location from across our geospatial partners. We also have the capability to work with systems such as Guidewire and Majesco as well as in-house developed systems that many insurance carriers currently use. 

How has Geosite helped insurers with the claims process?

In 2021, MS&AD approached Geosite with the goal of using spatial data to more efficiently receive and process claims after natural catastrophes. The insurer’s claims databases were siloed across the organisation and customers had to manually submit claims information, leading to slow processing and payouts.

Using property data, post-CAT imagery and advanced analytics, Geosite built machine learning models to automate damage assessments and project loss ratios. We then fed that data into a customised software environment which can serve as MS&AD’s centralised repository for claims processing. Their claims analysts are now able to easily access insights from spatial data with little to no training. This includes not only claims information about a specific property, but also portfolio-wide statistics which can be used to inform other insurance practices such as reserving. 

What is Geosite’s geographic coverage?

Geosite offers global coverage for certain data and models from our providers, but others are more geographically specialised. At the moment, our broadest and most in-depth coverage is for the continental US and Japan. We are also actively expanding coverage over Australia given recent flooding events and a strong interest from Australian insurance providers to use our software. In the near future we are looking to augment our data coverage for Europe, Latin America and parts of Southeast Asia. 

Given our position in the market, we sometimes act as a matchmaker between data providers and insurance carriers. We take the demand signal from our customers and feed that back to data providers so they know where to target their collection and coverage. 

What data partners do you work with?

We work with a number of InsTech members, including ICEYE, Tensorflight, Fathom and Previsico. We have dozens of other partners that provide a wide range of spatial data services, from geocoding to building characteristics. One of the key advantages of working with Geosite is that we look at all available data and then use machine learning models to determine which data sets best serve an insurance carrier’s needs. For example, there are a number of geocoding services available but not all have the same accuracy across geographies. Sometimes it is a combination of geocoding services that is needed to get the most accurate results, which is what Geosite provides.  

How does Geosite work within Search and Rescue?

Geosite developed a software platform, the Mission Management Tool (MMT), that the United States Air Forces uses to coordinate civilian search and rescue operations within the lower 48 US states and Alaska. The MMT is used to triage incoming distress alerts, notify local authorities to potential emergency scenarios and coordinate the deployment of federal resources if needed. On average, these units respond to over 11,000 incidents and save over 350 lives each year. Before we started working with these teams, they were relying on Excel spreadsheets and old software to manage their operations. Using Geosite’s MMT platform, response times have been drastically cut through the automation of previously manual data entry.

Why has Geosite joined InsTech as a corporate member?

Geosite didn’t originate as an insurance-focused company, so joining InsTech has allowed us to make invaluable connections within the industry. Being part of this incredible network has allowed us to expand our base of data partnerships which improves the quality of services Bedrock can provide. As InsTech is based in London, our membership also offers us great opportunities to meet potential clients in the London market.

What should readers do if they want to learn more?

They should reach out to us at info@geosite.io or through our website. We would be more than happy to sit down with anyone who has ideas about how we could work together!