Background and Goals

Many communities in Europe have to deal regularly with floods resulting from annual snow melt or long periods of rainfall. Inadequate drainage systems, interventions in river landscapes, increasing urbanisation and the threat of climate change increase the risk of flooding. Coastal countries and local authorities are strengthening their flood defence facilities by building increasingly higher dykes. However, the height is often not the key factor. The dykes are frequently too week to withstand the high water pressure. An early warning system with data downloadable from the Internet could provide assistance. With UrbanFlood, the European Commission is aiming to promote Internet-based monitoring of protective embankments.

Objectives: UrbanFlood is studying the use of sensors in dykes to support the establishment of an Internet-based early warning system, real-time emergency management and routine maintenance of coastal protection facilities. To achieve this, test dykes have been constructed in the Netherlands, fitted with sensors and learning software.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
  • Europe
  • Great Britain
  • Netherlands
  • Russia

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

No climate scenario used

Parameter (climate signals)
  • River flooding
  • Sea level rise und storm surges

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

Climate change increases the risk of flooding, as the security of coastal protection facilities is reduced and/or the probability of their failure is increased.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

The use of sensors in dykes is intended to detect increasing strain on flood defences caused by climate change much earlier and at lower cost. Adaptation measures include: Internet-based early warning system, real-time emergency management and improved maintenance of coastal defences. Objectives: studying the feasibility of remotely monitoring dykes and flooding.

Step 4: Plan and implement measures

Measures and/or strategies 

The early warning system method is being used at various pilot locations in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Russia. A sensor system is being installed in dykes and the early warning system is being tested using dyke failure and flooding scenarios.


Funding / Financing 

European Commission

Project management 

TNO innovation for life (Niederlande)


Stichting Toegepast Onderzoek Waterbeheer (STOWA) (Niederlande;

HR Wallingford (Großbritannien);

Cyfronet (Polen);

University of Amsterdam (Niederlande);

OOO Siemens (Russland);


Eemsgolaan 3
PO Box 1416
9701 BK Groningen
The Netherlands

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Fields of action:
 coastal and marine protection  water regime and water management