Traditional emergency policies fall short during floods

Traditional emergency policies fall short during floods

When it comes to floods and other crisis situations, the authorities do not always take the right decisions, because they make insufficient use of the technical information currently available. Interactive simulation models can help them weigh up their options more effectively when considering evacuation and other measures. This is the conclusion reached by Anne Leskens from the University of Twente (The Netherlands) in his thesis The case of flood policy decision-making. He will be awarded his doctorate at the University of Twente on Tuesday, 8 December.

Leskens examined how security regions and boards deal with water management emergencies in practice. He studied the evaluations of eight disaster exercises, analysed the approach taken by two water boards and monitored an emergency exercise organized by the City of Delft and the regional water authority. His findings show that, faced with the threat of flooding, communication between the authorities and technical specialists leaves a lot to be desired.

Saving lives

The study reveals the inadequacies of the traditional form of information exchange that relies on the use of static maps. There is often a considerable delay before relevant information on the danger of flooding reaches the authorities in question. Leskens concludes that interactive simulation models can significantly improve the : "These models can ensure that technical information reaches the people in charge more rapidly and more effectively, giving them more of an insight into which parts of a region are likely to end up under water and when the flooding will occur. They can therefore make a better assessment for purposes. Ultimately that kind of improvement can save lives."

Tailor-made evacuation

Leskens tested his findings in an experiment that compared the use of static maps to the interactive use of the 3Di simulation model. In the static situation, the decision-makers opted for blanket solutions such as evacuating the disabled, alerting livestock farmers and freeing up major evacuation routes. The use of a simulation model generated a more customized approach: evacuation was limited to the endangered sub-area, which also became the focus for assistance and services.

Citation: Traditional emergency policies fall short during floods (2015, December 8) retrieved 22 September 2023 from
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