As many Wisconsinites experienced this past July, heavy rains and flooding can be an incredibly dangerous hazard. By using GIS capabilities to implement flood management practices, communities can more easily avoid the stress and damage that come with heavy rainfall and flooding.
The Flanders Environment Agency, located in Belgium, is utilizing GIS to develop a flood forecasting system that monitors 4,000 km of waterways, namely the Demer River. Belgium is notorious for experiencing severe floods, making this technology paramount to the safety and well-being of its inhabitants.
By mapping intricate details every 50 meters of the Demer River – things like the profile of the riverbed and riverbanks, dimensions of bridges, locks, and water reservoirs, and more – the Flanders Environment Agency can better understand the effects of rainfall. Real-time measurements are taken every fifteen minutes, with that data then being run through hydrological models. These models will then predict the volume of the water discharge during a specific period of time and at specific parts in the Demer River.
The knowledge of flooding and management practices that comes with these GIS capabilities are invaluable to the Flanders Environment Agency and those who live along the Demer River. Though not every community would need such an extensive flood management and prevention system, the technology behind it could easily be translated to other needs in any given community. As GIS continues to evolve and expand, more capabilities like this one will become the norm.