We recently spoke to Ioana Popescu, Associate Professor of Hydroinformatics at IHE Delft.
IHE Delft is an education and research institute based in the Netherlands. The students at IHE Delft come from various countries around the world, and the institute sees the potential benefits of the new Scent technology for these students, some of whom come from regions exposed to floods. Ioana explains that IHE Delft decided to get involved in the project partly because of their research interest and partly because of their students, who ultimately will be the beneficiaries of the systems being developed.
In Scent, Ioana and her colleagues are mainly involved in flood modelling. They build flood models and study whether data collected by citizens can improve these models. The team is currently building flood models based on existing data from the Scent pilot areas – the Danube Delta in Romania and the Kifisos area in Athens, Greece.
At the moment, Ioana’s work focuses on existing data, but she will soon start processing data generated by citizens. Citizens’ contributions will come into play once the pilots start in 2018.
Achievements to date
Based on their existing models, especially from the Danube Delta, IHE has already identified areas for citizens to collect data. By examining these areas, the team can incorporate citizens’ contributions into the models and see if the models can be improved.
The existing models have also allowed Ioana and her colleagues to map water stagnation points in the Danube Delta. They started with the Danube Delta and finalised that model first. The team is currently working on the model for Kifisos, which will be completed by November.
Thoughts on Scent’s objectives
Ioana believes that Scent is an ambitious project with objectives that go far beyond just establishing whether citizens can contribute to improvements in the area of flood protection. Scent aims to create solutions for a broad range of applications. The role of Ioana’s team includes demonstrating the usefulness of the Scent technology from the perspective of one particular field of study. By testing floods and flood representations, they contribute to proving the practical potential of the Scent concept.
Scent and the environment
Scent has a very important role, in Ioana’s opinion – not only in terms of environmental impact but also in terms of educating citizens. The project will improve people’s understanding of what is happening around them, how they contribute, and how the data they collect is used.
Ioana explains that her institute has represented Scent at two conferences this year. The project has been showcased at both the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2017 in Vienna in April and at the 21st International Conference on Control Systems and Computer Science in Bucharest in May. The IHE partners submitted a paper and gave a presentation at both events, and plans on further dissemination activity are underway.
Coming up next
When asked about the next steps for IHE, Ioana says they will start studying data collection campaigns and incorporating citizen-generated data into existing models. The purpose of this is to find out how results using data from citizens compare to those from models using classical data only. Through this study the team will see whether citizen science can help improve flood models.
What is unique about Scent?
What Ioana finds unique about Scent is the way in which Scent looks to citizens and enables them to contribute to science. She also appreciates the way the project captures various methods and types of data collection in a centralised way. She adds that citizens can contribute to different fields of research, especially water and flood related studies and the measuring of water levels.
Scent and other EU-funded research projects
The main commonality that Ioana has experienced between Scent and different EU-funded projects is the multidisciplinarity of the consortia. Project partners working together often represent very different fields of study, and they collaborate to produce various kinds of systems, prototypes and reports.
A pleasant surprise
At the start of the project, Ioana was unsure about whether citizens would be willing and able to get involved. However, during the early work on establishing and analysing user requirements, she was impressed and pleasantly surprised by the level of interest and the commitment shown by citizens to contribute.
The overall impact of Scent in three words
Involvement of citizens
Contribution of different types of data gathered to research
Floods and the impact on flood prevention
This flood model video is a result of the MSc research study of André Borin Venturini, 2017 Flood Risk Management graduate at IHE Delft.