Articles | Volume 12, issue 5
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 1701–1716, 2012

Special issue: Flood resilient communities – managing the consequences...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 1701–1716, 2012

Research article 24 May 2012

Research article | 24 May 2012

Recommendations for the user-specific enhancement of flood maps

V. Meyer1, C. Kuhlicke1, J. Luther1, S. Fuchs2, S. Priest3, W. Dorner4, K. Serrhini5, J. Pardoe3, S. McCarthy3, J. Seidel4, G. Palka5, H. Unnerstall6, C. Viavattene3, and S. Scheuer7 V. Meyer et al.
  • 1Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
  • 2Institute of Mountain Risk Engineering, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
  • 3Flood Hazard Research Centre, Middlesex University, London, UK
  • 4University of Applied Sciences Deggendorf, Germany
  • 5Université François-Rabelais, École Polytechnique, Département Génie de l'Aménagement, Tours, France
  • 6Protestant Academy Hofgeismar (Evangelische Akademie Hofgeismar), Germany
  • 7Humboldt University Berlin, Institute of Geography, Germany

Abstract. The European Union Floods Directive requires the establishment of flood maps for high risk areas in all European member states by 2013. However, the current practice of flood mapping in Europe still shows some deficits. Firstly, flood maps are frequently seen as an information tool rather than a communication tool. This means that, for example, local stocks of knowledge are not incorporated. Secondly, the contents of flood maps often do not match the requirements of the end-users. Finally, flood maps are often designed and visualised in a way that cannot be easily understood by residents at risk and/or that is not suitable for the respective needs of public authorities in risk and event management. The RISK MAP project examined how end-user participation in the mapping process may be used to overcome these barriers and enhance the communicative power of flood maps, fundamentally increasing their effectiveness.

Based on empirical findings from a participatory approach that incorporated interviews, workshops and eye-tracking tests, conducted in five European case studies, this paper outlines recommendations for user-specific enhancements of flood maps. More specific, recommendations are given with regard to (1) appropriate stakeholder participation processes, which allow incorporating local knowledge and preferences, (2) the improvement of the contents of flood maps by considering user-specific needs and (3) the improvement of the visualisation of risk maps in order to produce user-friendly and understandable risk maps for the user groups concerned. Furthermore, "idealised" maps for different user groups are presented: for strategic planning, emergency management and the public.