Involvement of end-users Living Lab the city of Antwerp (Belgium)

This Community of Innovation deals with urban flooding due to extreme weather, in particular due to extreme precipitation and heat stress. The Antwerp CoI is structured as a “Living Lab” with a strong involvement of end-users and local citizens.

So far, this collaboration is focusing on the testing of innovations helping to reduce the effects of heavy rain.

Who is involved?

Led by KU Leuven, it currently incorporates four municipal departments of the city of Antwerp:

Ecological Management unit:
Responsible for the ecological management of the city;

Climate Adaptation unit:
Responsible for the implementation of climate adaptation plans;

Water Management unit:
responsible for the flood management of the city;

Emergency Planning unit:
Coordinating the emergency planning of the city.

The city has suffered some severe episodes of pluvial floods, the most recent in May 2016.

According to the indicator of hazard potential calculated in the market scoping exercise, the city is located in an area of high exposure, and events of intense precipitation that are expected to increase due to climate change.

View the key actors
  • Water-link: which is company responsible for the sewer system management;
  • Le Prieuré / Vegetal i.D.: which provides an innovation named HYDROVENTIV that works as a smart green roof system;
  • Fire Brigade: responsible for the urban flooding, wind storm and other extreme weather related interventions; they also conduct post-event surveys;
  • Regional Traffic Centre: responsible for the traffic management of the region, providing traffic information to the wider public;
  • Police of Zone Antwerp: responsible for the law and order of their citizens, which may be impacted by urban floods, such as the impacts on the traffic; they have to facilitate evacuations, etc.;
  • National Defense Belgium: same as Police but for larger event to be coordinated nationally such as evacuations;
  • Regional Defense Province of Antwerp: same as Police but for larger event to be coordinated regionally such as evacuations;
  • Main hospitals: they will receive the victims of the extreme weather events; they may not be accessible or more difficult to access in case of an urban flood in the city;
  • Main schools: large groups of students affected at the same place in case of an urban flood; they cannot reach the school or their home place in case of an urban flood in the city;
  • Main elderly homes: large groups of elderly people affected at the same place in case of an urban flood; they may not be accessible or more difficult to access in case of an urban flood in the city;
  • Federal Health Institute: responsible for the regional health management of the citizens;
  • Association of Cultural Heritage Exploitants: representing the cultural heritage owners and exploitants; the cultural heritage in the city may be impacted by urban floods;
  • Local citizens of city area Sint-Andries.
Testing on a Living Lab

The HYDROVENTIV innovation has been selected to initiate this testing. The city of Antwerp actively helped in finding a test location for the HYDROVENTIV smart green roof system (to be tested within the scope of BRIGAID). They launched an open call to their citizens, announcing the BRIGAID plans and asking for citizens who are willing to make their roof available for the testing. The call and BRIGAID testing activities were announced on their website.

More than 10 citizens expressed their interest to make their roof available for the BRIGAID testing. Together with the innovator, all these potential test locations were studied, the best locations visited and a final choice made on the best test location: the Beweging.net building at the Nationalestraat 111, Antwerp (see Figure ).

Next steps

It is agreed together with the city of Antwerp that KU Leuven will conduct the testing together with the innovator. KU Leuven will upscale the results to a larger area based on the SCAN tool developed by Sumaqua.

The installation and testing of the smart green roof system is considered by the city of Antwerp as an opportunity to make local and regional promotion around sustainable (blue-green) solutions to cope with the negative effects of climate change. The green roof system will be considered as one of such solutions. Local promotion events will be organized and delegations from other cities and events will visit the test location.

At a later stage, after the HYDROVENTIV system has been installed and first test results obtained, it is intended to organize a local event to promote and disseminate the BRIGAID testing activities and innovation. This would be done in cooperation with the city of Antwerp.

The BRIGAID testing on the HYDROVENTIV innovation will be considered for demonstration purposes. As explained before, KU Leuven will upscale the results from the local test site to a larger area. This will be of direct support to the local and regional urban water management. Most likely, this can be utilized as a unique opportunity for networking and dissemination (drawing attention to the need for sustainable blue-green climate adaptation solutions; promotion of the innovations being tested; impact analysis and planning based on upscaled results). Whether this will also provide a business opportunity has to be checked at a later stage; BRIGAID will in any case support the business opportunities of the innovators. In relation to this, the involvement of Antwerp CoI in the BRIGAID conferences to share the main findings and lessons learned is an activity that will be explored.

Maybe at a later stage of the BRIGAID project (cycle 2 or cycle 3 of the project) other BRIGAID innovations will be tested in the same area of the city of Antwerp. In this way, clusters of innovations can be considered there.

It is already agreed with the Emergency Planning department of the City of Antwerp that BRIGAID will explore the opportunity to develop a service to cope with the negative impacts (e.g. more frequency and more severe urban flooding) that the changing climate will bring. This will be done in cooperation with the EU H2020-project Climate-fit.city.

As explained before, KU Leuven will upscale the results from the local test site to a larger area based on the SCAN tool of Sumaqua.

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For more info you can contact

Nora Danko, city of Antwerp.
Nora.Danko@stad.Antwerpen.be

Prof. Patrick Willems, KU Leuven
patrick.willems@kuleuven.be