17 Apr 2023
 | 17 Apr 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Inform@Risk. The Development of a Prototype for an Integrated Landslide Early Warning System in an Informal Settlement: the Case of Bello Oriente in Medellín, Colombia

Christian Werthmann, Marta Sapena, Marlene Kühnl, John Singer, Carolina Garcia, Bettina Menschik, Heike Schäfer, Sebastian Schröck, Lisa Seiler, Kurosch Thuro, and Hannes Taubenböck

Abstract. The global number of vulnerable citizens in areas of landslide risk is expected to increase due to the twin forces of climate change and growing urbanization. Self-constructed or informal settlements are, due to shortage of urban land, frequently built in hazardous terrain such as landslide-prone slopes. They are characterized by high dynamics of growth, simple construction methods, strong social dynamics, and are exposed to unsteady political approaches. Landslide Early Warning Systems (LEWS) can contribute to decrease their vulnerability, but precise, affordable and culturally integrated LEWS need to be further developed. In this paper, we present a four-year living lab research project that aimed to design, implement, and evaluate a LEWS in the neighborhood of Bello Oriente, located in the urban-rural border of Medellín, Colombia. Its research team is composed of landscape architects, geo-engineers, remote sensing and geo-informatic experts. The research team collaborated with a multitude of stakeholders: civil society, private enterprises, non-governmental agencies and various branches of government. A prototypical LEWS has been designed, implemented and handed over to the government. It has entered a test and calibration phase. First findings indicate that the integrative development of technical aspects of a LEWS in informal settlements can be challenging, but manageable; whereas, the social and political support can vary and be beyond the control of the designer. It can be concluded that a resilient LEWS for informal settlements has to achieve sufficient social and technical redundancy to maintain basic functionality even in a reduced support scenario.

Christian Werthmann et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2023-53', Anonymous Referee #1, 02 May 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Christian Werthmann, 29 Jun 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2023-53', Harald Spahn, 03 May 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Christian Werthmann, 29 Jun 2023
  • RC3: 'Comment on nhess-2023-53', Anonymous Referee #3, 15 May 2023
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Christian Werthmann, 29 Jun 2023

Christian Werthmann et al.

Christian Werthmann et al.


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Short summary
Early Warning Systems (EWS) promise to decrease the vulnerability of self-constructed (informal) settlements threatened by landslides. A living lab sought to develop an integrated EWS in a landslide exposed neighborhood in Medellín. Findings indicate that technical aspects can be manageable, lesser social and political dynamics. A resilient EWS for informal settlements has to achieve sufficient social and technical redundancy to maintain basic functionality in a reduced support scenario.