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News Archive 2009 - 2010

Newly placed Deliverables

6 December 2010

Follow this link to the UrbanFlood Deliverables.

Joint UrbanFlood & SSG4Env Workshop

Thursday 11 & Friday 12 November 2010 – Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Against a backdrop of storm and rain a truly international group of experts gathered in Amsterdam to look at the future of flood safety: modern sensor techniques, models, real-time monitoring and the Internet. Four themes were discussed: Sensing, ICT, Modelling en Application & Implementation.


For each of the themes several thought-provoking presentations were given. The Dutch LiveDijk and Geobeads were presented, but also examples and experiences from the USA, the UK, France, Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic. The (concept) Early Warning System of UrbanFlood was demonstrated to a very interested public.


The presentations are available on video, see workshop 2010.


Available workshop documents: programme (pdf); detailed programme and abstracts (pdf) and list of participants (pdf).

Emerging Markets on the Move

28 October 2010



An article about UrbanFlood in the latest release of the Siemens journal "Pictures of the Future" The Magazine for Research and innovation, Fall 2010.

Download the English article: Emerging Markets on the Move

Download the German article: Schwellenlaender auf dem Sprung

Waternet first with new method for regular dike monitoring

14 September 2010



Waternet has introduced an innovative way of measuring the strength of dikes. Using sensors, in this case Geobeads, Waternet can now monitor dikes in real-time; effects of events like a rainstorm will show up immediately. In the Netherlands this method has been applied before for closer monitoring of short and problematic dike reaches but Waternet intends to use it for the regular dike audit; the method will yield much more detail on the actual condition of the dikes. Several research institutes, working together in the EU-funded UrbanFlood project, have joined Waternet in this undertaking.

Better ‘view’ inside the dike


Waternet carries out the study on behalf of Waterboard Amstel, Gooi en Vecht, which is responsible for safety against flooding in the area surrounding Amsterdam. Waternet will use the data to optimise the auditing and improvement of dikes; it is expected that the dikes are stronger than we now assume. The new method enables Waternet to very accurately measure several parameters and will reduce the uncertainty in calculations. This may mean that fewer dikes need to be improved, or improved is needed less frequently.


The test location is the Stammerdijk in Diemen, where Geobeads were installed on September 8. If the test is successful it will be repeated at other dikes. The first results of the study will be available by the end of 2010.


Partners in research


Up to now sensor systems like Geobeads were used for closer monitoring of short and often problematic dike reaches. Waternet takes this further and intends to use the method to better understand the dike and to use these insights for all dikes under management. Due to this innovative angle research institutes like the University of Amsterdam and STOWA, which work together in the EU funded UrbanFlood project, are joining Waternet in this effort.


Chain of beads


Geobeads look like a necklace of beads. They are placed in the dike and measure without human intervention the water pressure, temperature and movement with a very high accuracy. The measurements now take place in real-time and at frequent intervals, which means that effects of events like a local heavy rainstorm can be monitored. With the traditional method now used for testing dikes this is not possible. The data can be read remotely using mobile data networks.

See website Waternet (Dutch)

See news article in Algemeen Dagblad (Dutch newspaper)

Joint UrbanFlood & SG4E Workshop

September 2010


In July the UrbanFlood project announced its international workshop to be held on 11th and 12th November; we are happy to have received a good number of positive reactions already. Experts, researchers and policy makers from Australia, USA, United Kingdom, Poland, Russia and The Netherlands have already registered so it is going to be a truly International workshop.


Meanwhile, discussions with the SG4E project showed that this project has much in common with UrbanFlood while the overlap is limited. The logical conclusion was to combine forces and offer an even more interesting joint workshop on the use of sensors and early warning systems to make us all safer from flooding. Both 7th framework projects are supported by the European Union. … more


Kick-off meeting a success

In December 2009 the first meeting of the UrbanFlood project took place in Groningen, the Netherlands. The aim of the kick-off was to give the project a jumpstart in order to deliver a first version of the EWS technology by the third quarter of 2010. Project Manager Nico Pals: “Imagine: half of the project members have knowledge on the most advanced forms of ICT, they never expected that clay and sand could be such a challenge. The other half knows everything from dikes, dams, embankments and flooding and they never dreamed that artificial intelligence is an issue”. Certainly after the visit to the IJkdijk location ( both groups of professional knew that the fusion of ICT with dikes is the road ahead to manage flood risk.


Website ready

The first deadline of the project was to have a website ready by the end of February; this was realised even earlier. On the website you can find details on the objectives of UrbanFlood, get to know the UrbanFlood partners and find relevant news and links. All public reports and other digital ‘deliverables’ will be available as downloads. We cordially invite you to have a look at



UrbanFlood reports

By early May 2010 two reports were completed: “Early Warning Systems and the Mitigation of Climate Change Induced Disasters”, with the results of the stakeholders analyses, and “Functionality & Architecture of Internet Based EWS and EWS Hosting Platforms”, which describes from a stakeholder (user) point of view, the architecture and functionality of the UrbanFlood Early Warning System (EWS). Mark Morris from HR Wallingford, one of the hydraulic engineers working for UrbanFlood, remarked: “We have investigated the user requirements. One of the methods we employed was questionnaires. UrbanFlood will use the results in the designing of a system that is able to monitor thousands of miles of dikes, even though some of the persons we interviewed never considered monitoring to be a practical and economic option to increase flood safety.” Ludolph Wentholt of STOWA: “The hydraulics world has been very active on the ICT front. But it takes an internet guru to imagine that we can actually monitor the strength of thousands of km of dikes.” The reports are available here on this website.

UrbanFlood project up and running

July 2010


The UrbanFlood partners are all skilled in the use of ICT. But the concept in which UrbanFlood combines cloud computing, internet, enterprise service bus, visualisation and hydraulic software is a genuine innovation. Coordination meetings that were held in Amsterdam and Cracow but especially in Wallingford, UK (24-26 March) were very important in planning the activities in detail, as well as in getting to know each other even better than before. The result is that a basic version of the EWS is constructed.

First International Dike Monitoring and Flood Safety Workshop

July 2010


The first UrbanFlood International Dike Monitoring and Flood Safety Workshop will be held in The Netherlands and is planned for Thursday 11th and Friday 12th November 2010. The exact venue will be decided soon.

The goals of the workshop are: Sharing of the UrbanFlood project results; learning from others in the field and exchange of knowledge and experience and looking for possibilities to cooperate. Presentations and discussions are grouped under 4 themes: 1. Sensing; 2. ICT; 3. Modelling; and 4. Trials. The workshop will conclude with a plenary discussion titled Towards European Cooperation on Flood Protection. During the breaks UrbanFlood applications will be demonstrated.

UrbanFlood will invite international researchers and practitioners in the fields of ICT and Flood Early Warning, but also prominent flood defence asset managers at policy level, to share their experiences on on-line EWS and smart dikes and discuss the interim results and plans of UrbanFlood. If you recognize yourself in this description then you are most welcome to participate and even to present your work; for registration for the preliminary programme 2010. 


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Test locations for ‘smart dikes’ 

July 2010

The UrbanFlood project has pledged to have 'smart dikes' in three major cities in Europe on-line, two of them by the end of this year. Discussions on the proposed cooperation with the respective flood defence managers have been initiated, focusing on a joint wish to validate sensor technologies for various aspects of monitoring. Interesting in this aspect are links with ‘multi-layered flood defence’ concepts. We hope to be able to give more details in the next newsletter.

In the Spotlight: Valeria Krzhizhanovskaya

At the coordination meeting in Wallingford in March we asked Valeria, who works for the University of Amsterdam (and part-time with the University of St. Petersburg in Russia) about her expectations of UrbanFlood.

Valeria: “We are going to advance the science in simulation and modelling of the complex phenomena physics in earthen dikes to protect cities; to suggest better ways to build flood defence systems.”

“The UvA (University of Amsterdam) will develop some models, some simulation tools to assist in decision making for the advanced decision support systems based on the TNO multi touch tables. Of course we’ll want to make it really accessible, interactive and intuitive for the public. And we also contribute to the advanced scientific, interactive visualization which is important to actually show the results, to show the output of the decisions support systems.”... more

Can Smart Levees protect the Sacramento Delta?

7 June 2010



Dikes and levees are used in many areas around the world for flood protection. But in the Sacramento Delta in California, USA, they have an additional use: without the dikes the supply and the quality of the drinking water would be endangered. Current dikes give protection for the 100 year flood. Upgrades are being prepared, but will take many years to complete. Two students of the University of California, Berkeley investigated the possible application of smart sensor systems to prevent catastrophic damages due to unexpected levee failure. … more 

'Deltagoot' to measure resistance of dike to damage

3 May 2010



An experiment in the so-called ‘Deltagoot’ laboratory in the Noordoostpolder (reclaimed land) in the Netherlands is to demonstrate how long it takes before damage to a dike will lead to breaching. This duration, the so-called remaining strength or resistance to damage, is important to better understand the strength of our flood defenses.
The test is part of the program 'sterkte & belastingen waterkeringen" (“Strength and load flood defences - SBW).



UrbanFlood Meeting Wallingford

22- 24 March 2010


On March 22, 23 and 24 many representatives of the UrbanFlood partners met in Wallingford, UK, the home base of UrbanFlood partner HR Wallingford, who proved excellent hosts. For those of us who did not participate in the kick-off in Groningen last December it was an opportunity to meet many participants in person. In a plenary session each work package component presented what was done so far and which issues were faced. Questions were asked, a lively discussion took place and detailed plans were made. The main purpose of the gathering was to conduct several detailed technical meetings in which very specific aspects of the work at hand were discussed and agreed. All in all it was a very fruitful meeting, with as a lighter touch the ‘Ghost Tour’ in Oxford and a friendly dinner.

It has been agreed that the first International On-line Early Warning Workshop will be held in October-November 2010 in the Netherlands. The working title is: “Stakeholders and UrbanFlood – from research projects to practical application”. Details will follow.

‘Kennisdag Inspectie Waterkeringen’

March 25th 2010



On 25 March 2010, the seventh edition of the ‘Kennisdag Inspectie Waterkeringen’ of the STOWA and Department of Transport, Public Works and Waterways (‘Rijkswaterstaat Waterdienst’) took place. In the Safari Meeting Centre of the Burgers Zoo in Arnhem approximately 250 visitors, water managers from local government organisations, business and knowledge/research institutes met. Recent developments and current projects in the field of dike inspection and monitoring (‘Inspectie Waterkeringen’) were discussed.


The project UrbanFlood was presented by Bob Pengel on behalf of STOWA; see the presentation and video (Dutch).

Opening Dashboard LiveDijk Eemshaven

Feb 10th 2010

translated from


Innovation with respect to inspection of flood defenses is accelerating. At the IJkdijk facility breach tests in test embankments are carried out on a regular basis, leading to new knowledge. Now also the LiveDijk Eemshaven writes history by making the progress of innovation in and around flood defenses more tangible: online data of sensors in dikes are now available for real-time viewing on the website.


Innovations do not just happen. They require developments in various areas, the use of new evidence from trials and close cooperation between different specialist areas. Behind the creation of an innovation, like the display of a 'simple’ chart with real time data of a flood defense dike, is almost always a considerable amount of collaboration.


A demonstration page with the LiveDijk Eemshaven dashboard is set up on the website. This page is the result of close cooperation between the project group LiveDijk Eemshaven (Waterschap Noorderzijlvest, STOWA and Stichting IJkdijk), TNO, IBM and the innovation program Flood Control 2015. New information will be available on a regular basis. Keep a close eye on the website. We will also keep you informed on a regular basis with our newsletter.


This link takes you directly to the dashboard, part of the webpages of the LiveDijk Eemshaven.

Launch of iPad – multi-touch

Jan 28th 2010  From The Economist print edition


The Economist reports about the launch of Apple's iPad, which shows that multi-touch is not as far away from mainstreaming as might have been imagined. The aim of the UrbanFlood project is to visualize smart dikes and model results using a multi-touch table – similar in approach but larger.

See the links to the Economist articles

Tablet computing: The book of Jobs 

Apple unveils the iPad

Kickoff UrbanFlood

Dec 7th 2009


Grant Agreement from the European Commission was signed on 7 December 2009.


Improvement of Dike Inspections

Oct 16th 2009


The visual inspection of dikes, embankments, sea defences and dunes remains a crucial factor in maintaining the structural integrity of these man-made objects. A variety of natural and usages processes slowly but steadily degrade the quality of these defences. Therefore continues process of assessment and maintenance is required.

Because of its unique qualities, visual inspection is a core activity in dike maintenance. It can be preformed under all circumstances and weather conditions and the experienced observer is capable to process the information quickly and make diagnosis and prognosis of a situation and come into action.


But visual inspection also has distinct limitations and is often subject to a very personal interpretation.


Aided with modern technology, fed by quality information and aware of possible scenarios visual inspection is thought t

o become more effective and efficient. With this vision in mind STOWA (Dutch acronym for the Foundation for Applied Water Research) and Rijkswaterstaat (Water services division, part of the Dutch national office of public works) have joined hands to strengthen the traditional visual inspection practice by uniforming, aiding and standardizing the specific tasks that make up a typical inspection cycle.


This meeting was organised in cooperation with Groningen Seaports.


Photo source: 2010 - STOWA - RWS waterdienst