Use of volunteers' information to support proactive inspection of hydraulic structures

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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This thesis describes the development and testing of a methodology to use information collected by volunteers and technicians on the status of hydraulic structures, applicable for day-to-day risk management. The study was performed in the northeastern Italian Alps of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. A decision support method was developed and implemented by means of a prototype Web-GIS application. The methodology ensures that technicians in charge can systematically evaluate inspection reports coming from either volunteers or technicians. As such, the study deals with the fields of citizen science and risk management of hydro-meteorological hazards. Concerning citizen science, the thesis studied the quality of visual inspections by volunteers of hydraulic structures that protect society against debris flows. Debris flows are flows of water, sediment and debris down a stream channel that can occur suddenly. Concerning risk management, this thesis looked at collaboration between managing organizations and local volunteers in collecting data on the status of protecting structures such as check-dams. In the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, protection against debris flows is particularly complex due to the abundance and variety of protecting structures. Furthermore, the budget for risk management in general is decreasing while the need is only increasing, due to environmental change. To facilitate collaboration, trade-offs between the motivations of volunteers, scientific goals and management goals will have to be made. It is recommended to team up volunteers with technicians in an extensive training period. In this way, volunteers can become capable inspectors of hydraulic structures
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • van de Giesen, N.C., Supervisor
  • Bogaard, T.A., Advisor
Award date26 Apr 2016
Print ISBNs978-94-6186-645-5
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

The research was part of the Marie Curie ITN Changing Network funded by the European Community’s 7th Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under the Grant Agreement No. 30 263953 in collaboration between the CNR-IRPI, Padova and the WaterManagement Department of TUDelft.


  • management of hydro-meteorological hazards
  • inspection of hydraulic structures
  • decision support
  • Citizen science


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