2014 Data+ Editors' Choice Awards


A central Web portal combines spatial and weather data to monitor flood and drought conditions.

2014 Data+ Editors' Choice Awards

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In 2012 and 2013, Belgium endured heavy rainfall as Europe's jet stream changed paths and brought flooding to central Europe. The Flemish Environment Agency needed a better way to inform citizens and water management officials about forecasted flood conditions.

Kisters, a German engineering and technology company, developed a Web-based portal that integrates complex spatial and sequential data such as inundation maps, river water levels, radar information, flood alarm reports and public Twitter feeds to provide hourly updates on flood conditions to about 1,000 professionals and 1.6 million public users.

The team deployed Esri's ArcGIS mapping and spatial analysis software for integrating forecasting maps; Kisters' water management information system and Web interoperability system for integrating measurements, hydrologic conditions and forecast data; and a content management system for integrating browser-based presentation widgets.

Some 2,000 locations provide water-level data to the system every 15 minutes, and tidal data is updated every minute. Updates are applied to short-term forecasts hourly and to long-term forecasts twice a day.

"The biggest technical challenge was harmonizing Kisters' product for time series data management and the Esri Web technology product for the spatial information ... and then normalizing this information," says Michael Natschke, head of water solutions at Kisters.

The portal went live in February -- just as Belgium entered a dry spell. Luckily, the portal also monitors drought conditions.

"The public and professional widgets were all integrated into one seamless state-of-the-art Web services-based portal, making context-aware access to water information easier," says Kris Cauwenberghs, head of the Flemish Environment Agency's flood management unit.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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