Flood protection in the Netherlands – study visit to Room for the River project in Nijmegen and to Delta Works

During last week, one of our team members visited various flood protection and water management projects in the Netherlands together with collaborating international researchers.


(c) C. Stephan

An impressing example of an interdisciplinary approach towards flood risk management is the Room for the River project in the city of Nijmegen, which is part of the National Room for the River program setup after severe river flooding  in 1993 and 1995.In a presentation and excursion along the river Waal, the main distributary branch of the Rhine, landscape architect Mathieu Schouten presented the main ideas of an integrated bottom-up approach for the planning of interventions, which included aspects of flood protection, increase in biodiversity and urban planning. Inclusive stakeholder management and the involvement of local people in the landscape design have made this project a showcase for governance of the water-scape of the river Waal. Please find more information on the Room for the River project in Nijmegen on the project website.

Besides this integrative approach of flood management and landscape design, the researcher visited parts of the Delta Works.


(c) C. Stephan

These are a series of infrastructural projects that protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from floods from the sea. The Netherlands has a total of 17,500 kilometres in dykes. Without dykes, dunes and storm surge barriers, today 40% of the country would be permanently under water. The large infrastructural interventions, carried out in the SW of Netherlands between 1957 and 1986, strongly affected the ecological characteristics of the estuarine transit zones. While in the last years ecological rehabilitation has gained importance in the delta areas, at the same time transport by cargo ships and protection against flooding as well as long-term planning for sea level rise need to be considered.



Fake News as a new (?) challenge in crisis and risk communication

In our latest DGSMtech workshop (see post below) we have debated the current role of fake news for civil protection agencies and Virtual Operation Support Teams (VOST). Fake news are not a new phenomenon; propaganda, false information, prefabricated alternative facts but also the demand for alternative sources and critical reflection on opinions have all existed before the advent of the internet. One often repeated arguments for the internet, youtube and social media age being different to TV, photo and print media is speed and accessibility. It is supposed that not only the opportunities for feedback and easier spread of information have increased. Also, the habits of media consumption and expectations for rapid (tweet-speed) information delivery have changed. But also the trust in authorities, journalism and sources of information have transformed, as for example, some digital natives might turn to some youtubers’ opinion first rather than to some of the old media anchor persons.

On this backdraft of transformations in society in dealing with new media and information technologies, the question debated on our workshop was; how does this affect professionals working with social
media in press and public relation offices in civil protection agencies for instance, but also, how does it affect volunteers working sometimes „from the sofa“ in similar topics or even in organised structures such as a VOST?

Read more

Workshop on Crowd Mapping and Social Media for civil protection – “Rumors and FAKE news” (in German)

17.-18.3.2017 an der TH Köln, IWZ in Deutz, Betzdorfer Str. 2, Raum ZS-8-8


Wir veranstalten zusammen mit der Deutschen Gesellschaft zur  Förderung von Social Media und Technologien im Bevölkerungsschutz e.V. (DGSMtech) einen Workshop zum Thema “Gerüchte und Fake News – VOST* aktuell: DGSMTech Workshop und Mitgliederversammlung”

*Virtual Operation Support Team

Aber trotzdem kein Fake News:
Freitag Mittag beginnt der erste Teil des Workshops an der TH Köln.
Interessante Vorträge!
Nach Paris, Berlin und München der aktuellste “Social Media: Informationssteuerung in operativen Lagen.”

Am Freitagabend findet die jährliche Mitgliederversammlung statt. Diese ist öffentlich, jedoch haben nur Mitglieder des Vereins Stimmrecht.

ZEITPLAN finden Sie hier

Ein paar Themen, mit denen wir uns beim Workshop befassen wollen:

  • Der Weg in die Praxis mit dem deutschen VOST
  • Umgang mit Gerüchten und “Fake News” in sozialen Netzwerken
  • Social Media in der Bevölkerungsschutz-Praxis … und einiges mehr!

Für das leibliche Wohl ist gesorgt. Der Eintritt ist frei.

Weitere Infos auf der DGSMTech Hompage


New Publication on Interdisciplinary Perspectives of Risk and Crisis Mangement

We are happy to inform you about our new publication “Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven des Risiko- und Krisenmanagements. Beiträge aus Wissenschaft und Praxis im Rahmen der Veranstaltungsreihe „Risky Monday“”in our publication series “Integrative Risk and Security Research”. This issue provides an overview of all sessions ouf our lecture series “Risky Monday” which took place until winter semester 2015/2screenshot-2017-02-20-13-30-15016, the professional background of the invited experts and cooperation opportunities regarding bachelor and master theses. Moreover, you can find discussion papers on emergency and crisis management in administration, psychosocial support and stakeholder-involvement in Disaster Risk Reduction.

You can download the issue here:


An overview of all issues of our publication series “Integrative Risk and Security Research” you can find here:



6. Stuttgarter Runder Tisch “Forschung im Bevölkerungsschutz” at the Fraunhofer IAO

On February 7th, Christiane Stephan from our team at IRG participated at the 6. Stuttgarter Runder Tisch “Forschung im Bevölkerungsschutz” at the Fraunhofer Institute IAO.

The event addressed the possibilities and practices of involvement of civil society into crisis management. Two workshops addressed this complex topic from different angles: While in workshop I the challenges and potentials of integrating spontaneous unaffiliated volunteers into crisis management were addressed, workshop II discussed possible solutions of maintaining ambulant systems for people in need of medical support in times of crisis.


cc Flickr, 2014

In the event it was possible to build up and intensify the exchange between researchers and practitioners from different ongoing research projects in Germany. This included the two projects presented by Fraunhofer IAO, KOKOS and KOPHIS, but also a range of other projects, among them KIRMin and the research network BigWa, both led by IRG at TH Köln.

We are looking forward to a continuous exchange of ideas and approaches for the involvement of civil society into crisis management in the future, facing the challenges of dynamic change in our societies and building up trustful relations among all actors involved.

Risky Monday:

On Januar 23th 2017 Tobias Hahn from the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) introduced the Coordiantion Center NOAH on after care and support for German victing and their relatives who are affected abroad and respective task and challenges.



We thank him very much for this interesting presentation.

For further information please contact Celia Norf (celia.norf(at)th-koeln.de) and have a look at our events page.

Risky Monday: Water Shortage and Water Harvesting in Jordan

On January 16th 2017 Barbara Sophia Brilmayer Bakti, PhD student at Heidelberg University and  research associate at the Institute of Geography, University of Cologne, presented insights on a research project regarding water shortage and water harvesting in Jordan. Due to e.g. climate change the method of water harvesting attracts wide interest in regard to handling limited water resources in sensitive regions.


For further information and also the presentation slides please contact Celia Norf (celia.norf(at)th-koeln.de) and have a look at our events page.


We thank her very much for this very interesting presentation.