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Strengthening Resilience to Water Emergencies through Citizen Participation

Fabio Ciravegna, Michele Ferri, Vitaveska Lanfranchi, Clara Bagnasco, Simon McCarthy, Uta Wehn, Marcin Sieprawsky, Suvodeep Mazumdar and Neil Ireson

(Submission #409)


The European flood directive 2007/60/EU requires the adoption of both structural and non-structural measures of prevention and preparation. There is an increasing interest towards the creation of non-structural measures focussing on citizen participation. Most of the experiences, however, have been limited to single technologies or methodologies, or highly focussed citizen observatories. The European project WeSenseIt has developed a holistic approach to situation awareness and response implementation where citizens play a central part in the fabric of the emergency response strategy. First, an integrated platform enables full access to existing physical sensors and surveillance tools in the region (water and weather sensors, etc.) through a web-based interface. Second, citizens can send data and information (text, photos, recorded and live videos) via a set of mobile apps and web platforms that communicate directly with the control room. Different options are provided for different roles: from regular citizens to volunteers of the civil protection/professional operators. The latter version supports also a command and control strategy where tasks are allocated and acted upon with full workflow control from the control room. Third, a suite of tools was developed to monitor millions of messages on social media, identifying information and photos relevant to the emergency in a largely automated way. Fourth, a precise 2D and 3D hydraulic model of the evolution of the flood is created based on information from both sensors and citizens. Fifth, two web portals are provided. The decision makers’ portal allows efficient and effective access to all available information in real time and the implementation of the control and command strategy. The citizen portal is a one-stop shop for all the public information, for communication from the authorities, and for personalised access to sensor data. Finally, a comprehensive governance analysis has been carried out to identify requirements of different stakeholders, to enable the operational implementation of the approach from a legal and governance point of view and to trace resulting implications for governance and resilience over time. The approach has become the backbone of a key non-structural measure in the Management Plan of Flood Risk implementing the directive 2007/60/EU in the Hydrographic District of the Oriental Alps, an area covering four regions in the North East of Italy for a total of 37.602,3 km2 and 6.954.687 inhabitants. The plan covers the technological as well as governance implementation and an ambitious plan for citizen education to participation for the entire region.


Topic Area:  [1.8] Risk and management of natural disasters
Abstract Type:  Oral Presentation

Additional fields

Comments:   Citizen observatories for emergency response

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