The SMARTeST FP7 Project and The Six Steps to Flood Resilience

Recent flood events in Europe, and worldwide, demonstrate that existing flood defence structures do not guarantee a sufficient protection level for people and properties.

New strategies aim for a more holistic approach to flood risk management; and to consider the uncertainties of a changing climate and increased urbanisation.  The most important aspect of such strategies is their adaptability and flexibility.

The market has seen the emergence of the flood resilience (FRe) technology in recent years which involves the adaptation or construction of the buildings themselves, but it also includes the use of flood resilient technology that can be used to protect the building, including barriers, protection walls and flood products. The technology is typically temporary in nature or at most semi-permanent and it is mobilised typically when there is a flood warning or heavy rainfall is forecast. Such technology requires human intervention that may involve a householder or in more sophisticated flood technology the use of a specialised team from a local authority.

The Smarter Resilience, Tools, Technologies and Systems (SMARTeST) has developed, tested and integrated innovative small scale measures to increase the flood resilience of the built environment.   SMARTeST was funded by the European Union through the FP7 programme in the area of Environmental Technologies.  The research involved ten parts from seven EU countries.  Therefore a range of different contexts were involved in the research.

The research was undertaken over the period of 2010 to 2013 and aimed to improve the ‘Road to Market’ of innovative FRe technologies.  A range of guidance documents have been produced and these are available from the project website.

This project is a springboard to the use of the next generation of FRe-technology.  Such technology may be based on automatic control, innovative materials and high levels of performance. This innovation will improve the effectiveness especially in the case of pluvial and flash floods where extreme short response time requires automatic deployment of FRe-systems.  Through the involvement of commercial enterprises and service providers the research outcomes will be directly applied by the FRe industry and will especially trigger the development of new markets for the protection of urban infrastructure.

The project has the potential to make a significant beneficial contribution to flood risk management in Europe and will foster the development of more holistic flood defence systems which will lead in the end to flood resilient cities. The project has aimed to substantially reduce the damage, the costs and the health impacts associated with flood hazards.

You can find out more about the SMARTeST research findings that include decision support tools and guides to the technologies, by visiting:

Six Steps to Flood Resilience
In order to implement this within the UK context the two guidance documents were written in order to guide professionals (particularly in local authorities) and property owners to best practice in making such technologies part of an overall flood risk management strategy.

BRE, Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester collaborated together on the guidance documents to help to integrate flood resilient technologies into existing management and planning practices.

A simple six step process was developed to guide the implementation of technologies that drew on our work with stakeholders from Government, local authorities, community groups, flood risk manufacturers, insurers and engineers.

Flood risk management practices vary across Europe and so this guidance pertains specifically to England and its planning and flood risk management systems.

We hope in the future that the six step principle can be modified and extended throughout Europe.

The methods used in the research included surveys of relevant professional stakeholders and, in collaboration with the National Flood Forum, property owners who had previously installed property-level flood resilience technologies. It also included interviews and workshops in the Heywood area of Greater Manchester and with high-level government stakeholders. The document went through several iterations based on comments received on the drafts from a wide range of groups including central and local government bodies, government agencies, surveyors, manufacturers and insurers. This could be replicated in other EU countries, within the parameters of the six steps shown in order to ensure that they are culturally relevant to different member states.

Such guidance needs to be produced by an independent and trusted third-party who does not have any vested interests, such as a research institute. Adopters must fully complement developing technical testing and standards, yet similarly pay due attention to the ability of particular end-users to understand, deploy, and maintain the technologies.

Please contact: Dr. Stephen Garvin, BRE, 01355 576200, [email protected]

Project team members:

Dr. Angela Connelly and Nigel Lawson, University of Manchester

Dr. Paul O’Hare, Manchester Metropolitan University

Prof. Iain White, now of The University of Waikato, New Zealand.