How a new EU project is helping cities like Venice manage flood risk

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In this week’s episode of Smart Regions, Euronews visits Venice to see how it is helping to safeguard itself from the impact of sea storms.

It has had a tIdal management system in place since 1501 and the oldest meteorological station is in Punta della Dogana. It is still operational and has a new ally: I-STORMS.

I-STORMS is a European project that aims to improve the early warning and civil protection procedures in sea storm emergencies.

It does this through transnational cooperation to enhance innovative policies and develop joint strategies to safeguard the Adriatic-Ionian area from sea storms.

The I-STORMS Web System is a combination of a common data system for sharing ocean measurements and forecasts, a multi-model forecasting system, a geoportal and an interactive geo-visualisation tool to make results available to the general public too.

Greece, Albania, Slovenia and Croatia share the same concerns and are also part of the project.

Before it, each country had its own method, now the data is shared.

With a budget of 1.4 million euros, I-STORMS is largely funded by the EU Cohesion Policy.

Planning in time for a sea storm can be a life-saver. The high water, or Aqua Alta, has become a nightmare for many residents, including Paolo, who owns a hotel near San Marcos.

“On 12 November 2019 we had 187cm. That meant we had 60cm of water inside the hotel so it almost reached the electrical outlets. We would need the Mose project to work. The barriers, we invested billions of euros in them for state of the art protection,” Paolo Sartore said.

The Mose project is a system of barriers for the protection of Venice from high tides.

However, in order to better predict and manage alerts, I-STORMS has made wave, wind and tide data available to everyone in real time, with an application developed by researchers from Christian Ferrarin’s team.

“The application presents a map where we can select any location in the Adriatic and Ionian basin and at that point, we can see the levels and how they will evolve over a couple of days, and also the waves. It is useful for everybody in the sense that it is for people but also for civil protection systems that have to manage the alert and the emergency management,” ISMAR-CNR researcher, Christian Ferrarin, said.

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