Innovative app warns of pluvial flooding

Innovative app warns of pluvial flooding

VUB FloodCitiSense project brings breakthrough in systematic mapping of flood problems

March winds and April showers herald summers of intense downpours, leading to localised pluvial flooding. Accurately estimating this type of flooding is difficult. The FloodCitiSense project, an international participatory research project led by VUB professor of hydrology Boud Verbeiren, aims to remedy this by developing a flood warning service. The innovative app makes it possible to systematically report rainfall and pluvial flooding.

Verbeiren: “The research phase of the app is finished and now we would like to evolve towards an operational phase in Brussels (one of the pilot cities). Hereto, we need as many users as possible to share their observations via the app. Reporting heavy rain without flooding is also very relevant, as it allows us to improve our forecasts. With the predictions we can contribute to a better identification and prevention of pluvial flooding in cities.

During heavy rainfall, Brussels and other cities and towns are regularly hit by flooding. In autumn and winter, abundant rain slowly moves across the city and, combined with leaf fall, causes blockages in sewer inlets. In summer, the pluvial flood problems are mostly related intense rain storms, with a lot of rain in a short period of time.

Over the past three years, the FloodCitiSense participatory research project actively involved citizens in the development of relevant and innovative tools to predict pluvial flooding in cities. These tools include an app that allows users to report flooding in an easy and consistent way. The FloodCitiSense app uses both scientific data and information from citizens about rainfall and potential flooding. People can report their observations of rainfall and potential impacts in their neighbourhood via the app using user-friendly icons that each represent a different intensity of rainfall, and related impacts ranging from flooding in parks or streets to sewer blockages or flooding of private property.

Note for the press:


Webinar about app + launch of citizen observation campaign summer 2021

To mark World Water Day and Brussels Water Days 2021, the FloodCitiSense team is hosting a webinar on 25 March from 19.30 to 20.30. During the webinar, the team will explain how the app works and answer questions, and launch the citizen observation campaign that will take place this summer. Register to take part in the webinar here. More information on the project can be found on the FloodCitiSense website, where research activities and results are available in a graphical summary.

The FloodCitiSense app

You can download the app through the App Store or Play Store, and there is also a web version. This video explains how citizens can report flooding. 


About the FloodCitiSense project

FloodCitiSense, led by the Department of Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, was funded by Innoviris in the framework of the Smart Urban Future programme of JPI Urban Europe. The project collaborated with other Brussels-based partners (VUB’s SMIT-iMinds and EGEB), as well as a range of international partners (TU Delft, Imperial College London, IIASA, Disdrometrics/BlueChain and LGiU).


Boud Verbeiren

0490 52 25 52

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