The Flemish Environmental Society (VMM) wants to use drones during floods to accurately map the affected area. The data must make the map with flood-sensitive areas more accurate, which is interesting for detecting possible construction sites.

Since 2006, Flanders has maps with flood-sensitive areas. Since 2013, flood sensitivity has also to be communicated when selling properties or plots. The maps are based on models of watercourses and flood observations. In addition to observations of emergency services, helicopters were used in the past, but this does not seem to be so efficient. “In recent years, Flanders is more likely to face floods in upstream areas caused by sudden short-lived heavy rainfall, often at summer recruits,” the VMM said. “Due to the sudden nature of the precipitation and the often very local character, a helicopter flight is not the most suitable method.”

Therefore, a government contract is being outsourced to companies with drones. The VMM wants to come to an “area-wide network” for drone flights. With a “code orange” of the KMI (Royal Meteorological Institute), a selected company must be able go up to two hours after a call on the spot, map the flood and forward the data. With the images and other data, the existing maps can then be refined.

VMM considers the drones also useful for non-inhabited areas, where emergency services cannot access the perimeter during floods.


Image: Elevated Media