Complexity Challenges of Critical Situations Caused by Flooding

By Asproth, Viveca; Håkansson, Anita | Emergence: Complexity and Organization, January 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Complexity Challenges of Critical Situations Caused by Flooding


Asproth, Viveca, Håkansson, Anita, Emergence: Complexity and Organization


In cases of flooding many authorities and organizations become involved and it can be a problem to take in the whole situation and have a common picture when many incidents are happening at the same time. There is also a lack of efficient tools that show critical buildings and constructions in combination with actual and forecasted water levels. "When handling critical situations people face challenges of complexity, uncertainty, and unpredictably. Such management and decision-making activities are normally supported by various models and support tools. However, complexity is normally not explicitly addressed in such models and tools. In this paper we analyze and discuss different kinds of complexity, which are a challenge in critical situations caused by flooding.

Introduction

When lakes and watercourses are flooded the water level increases so much that normally dry territories are put under water. Even areas that usually are not bounded by water can be flooded. Globally, flooding is the type of natural catastrophe that every year causes the most victims and the greatest economic effects. In Sweden and other European countries we suffer few big flooding catastrophes and death caused by flooding is relatively unusual. Damage to tangible assets and the cost to society are, however, considerable when flooding does occur.

High water levels and the power of gushing water can cause great damage to settlements and infrastructure. Buildings are often water damaged both by direct flooding and by water rushing in through overloaded systems of water mains and outlets. Ground that is saturated with water combined with erosion can cause landslides, damaging settlements, roads, railways, and bridges. Destroyed and flooded roads cannot be driven down and communications are disturbed. Flooded cables and signalling stations can lead to interruptions in electricity supply and telecommunications. Damaged water supplies and destroyed cables and pipes are a threat to society and if water-purification plants are hit, people's health and the environment might be jeopardized.

As several authorities and organizations become involved in cases of flooding, they may not be able to take in the whole situation and gain a common picture because many incidents are occurring at the same time. Priorities are hard to allocate as there is a lack of efficient tools to show critical buildings and constructions such as roads, railroads, water-purification plants, and so on in combination with actual and forecast water levels. Furthermore, coordination between the authorities and organizations concerned is normally not as effective as it could be.

The CRISSI project

The aim of the CRISSI project is to present a visualization model for critical situations caused by flooding, and to develop a computerized system for simulations based on the model.

Questions at issue are:

* Which authorities and organizations are affected by such critical situations?

* Which are the critical factors or variables on which the system must be based?

* How can visualization of a critical situation improve the understanding ofthat situation?

* Can visualization of dynamic processes contribute to understanding?

* In what way can multimedia and GIS (geographic information systems) contribute?

* Which calculation models (for example hydrological) are useful?

* How can anticipation contribute to the system?

* Which existing tools are useful for inclusion in the system?

In earlier work we have approached problems concerning decision support for spatial planning (Asproth, et al, 1999, 2002), spatial modeling and simulation (Asproth, et al, 2005b), water regulation (Asproth, etal., 2001), visualization of spatial decision situations (Asproth, et al, 2002), and simulation and anticipation in critical situations caused by flooding (Asproth & Hâkansson, 2006). So far in the project, we have identified the critical factors to be included in a model for visualization of situations caused by flooding (see Table 1). …

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Complexity Challenges of Critical Situations Caused by Flooding
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