SHELTER' Sava River basin Open Lab: Co-creating tools for better flood risk response

How can international cooperation be facilitated in flood risk management? Which SHELTER instruments could be useful for the Sava River basin? How will the stakeholders living in the basin apply the project results? To address questions such as these, the International Sava River Basin Commission and the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe initiated a virtual discussion. Stakeholders from the Sava River basin as well as target national groups came together to brainstorm ideas on how to improve SHELTER tools under development.

The 4th SHELTER Sava River basin Open Lab Stakeholder Workshop was convened virtually on 8 June 2021 by the International Sava River Basin Commission and the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe. It aimed at defining user’s perspective on the main functionalities and properties developed for SHELTER tools namely the Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment and Decision Support System and the Chatbot, which are currently in the first phase of their development.

Once ready, these tools would be utilised in the Resilience Dashboard, an online platform that will enable users to better manage hazard risks in the SHELTER Open Labs across Europe, and specifically the management of flood risks for cultural heritage in the Sava River Basin. The 5 Open Labs, established in cooperation with local stakeholders, are representative of main climatic and environmental challenges in Europe and of different heritage’s typologies, i.e.: 3 Urban Open Labs (in Ravenna, Seferihisar and Dordrecht); and 2 Cross-border Open Labs (in Sava River Basin and Baixa Limia-Serra).

The SHELTER project (Sustainable Historic Environments hoListic reconstruction through Technological Enhancement and community-based Resilience) aims at developing a data-driven and community-based operational knowledge framework that will bring heritage managers and the scientific community together, intending to increase resilience, reducing vulnerability and promoting better and safer reconstruction in historic areas to cope with climate change and natural hazards. The SHELTER project is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme.

To better engage, discuss and collect inputs from the participants, the coordinators held a co-creation exercise using the Miro board – an online collaboration platform allowing participants to visualise ideas and work on a project with a team. Stakeholders from the Sava River Basin commented on the tools and suggested some changes to the main functionalities, and also expressed a willingness to help further development by testing the pilot versions of the Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment and Decision Support System once it is ready.

The Chatbot was the second tool that the stakeholders got the opportunity to test for the first time. LINKS, a technical partner of the SHELTER Consortium created this instrument. The Chatbot is a structured data collection tool that can be utilised by citizens, professionals and decision-makers. During the test, technical experts and participants from the Sava River Basin simulated a flooding scenario in the Chatbot and then prepared a report on it. Participants chose to either simply follow the simulation online or test it directly through an application installed on their smartphones.

This activity was essential for the creation of the tool as it allowed participants to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement early on. The inputs and debate will allow the Chatbot to be fine-tuned to the real needs and expectations of its future users in the 5 SHELTER Open Labs.

“The two exercises conducted today provided inputs for the development of the SHELTER tools and their future dialogue and integration with existing tools and platforms in the Sava River basin”, commented Francesca Bampa, Science Project Officer, UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe. “Participants showed interest in sharing information and data already developed within their countries that could enrich SHELTER tools”.

Recommendations received from expert stakeholders during the workshop will be integrated into the design and structure of the SHELTER tools under development. The next workshop will test the pilot version of the Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment and Decision Support System and the final version of the Chatbot, which will be developed further in accordance with the feedback received during this workshop.

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