Evaluation of flood hazard maps in print and web mapping services as information tools in flood risk communication
Abstract. Flood risk communication with the general public and the population at risk is getting increasingly important for flood risk management, especially as a precautionary measure. This is also underlined by the EU Flood Directive. The flood related authorities therefore have to develop adjusted information tools which meet the demands of different user groups. This article presents the formative evaluation of flood hazard maps and web mapping services according to the specific requirements and needs of the general public using the dynamic-transactional approach as a theoretical framework. The evaluation was done by a mixture of different methods; an analysis of existing tools, a creative workshop with experts and laymen and an online survey.
The currently existing flood hazard maps or web mapping services or web GIS still lack a good balance between simplicity and complexity with adequate readability and usability for the public. Well designed and associative maps (e.g. using blue colours for water depths) which can be compared with past local flood events and which can create empathy in viewers, can help to raise awareness, to heighten the activity and knowledge level or can lead to further information seeking. Concerning web mapping services, a linkage between general flood information like flood extents of different scenarios and corresponding water depths and real time information like gauge levels is an important demand by users. Gauge levels of these scenarios are easier to understand than the scientifically correct return periods or annualities. The recently developed Bavarian web mapping service tries to integrate these requirements.