GIS Application for managing floods in Morocco – Nov 2020
The diversity of Moroccan landscapes, the variability of its climate and meteorological, geographic and geologic conditions, leads to expose the national territory of Morocco to many hazards of natural origin. 70% of these events are floods, the type of disaster that most affect people in Morocco and causing a significant economic damage. Despite all the measures taken by the state to avoid and minimize environmental and social risks related to the flood hazard, it could affect the people or the environment. This paper discusses the implementation of a GIS application, that manages floods by making the organization that use it more accessible to people.
The app detect them by getting their location, in order to help people who are victims of flood hazards or to prevent them if they are close to a high-risk area. It also allows them to express their issues and to give more informations about their situation. Those informations given by users will then be useful to have a better understanding of what the population is suffering from. It also allows them to discover high-risk flood risk areas that are around them, and which ones are the closest. The app also aims to spread awareness about flood hazard, and how to deal with it by giving some informations about floods and some safety tips.
Keywords: Geographic Information System (GIS); Floods; Testimonials; Risk areas
Studies in different parts of the world suggest that the number of disasters associated with extreme weather and climate, such as floods, has increased through the 20 century. This trend likely reflects different factors, such as a shift in the precipitation pattern, and the fact of growing amount of the population living in flood-prone areas is increasing. Residents that lived in low land or close to riverbanks are often highly vulnerable to flood hazard, especially when it happens in urban areas.
In Morocco, the situation is not different at all. The diversity of Moroccan landscapes, the variability of its climate and meteorological, geographic and geologic conditions, leads to expose the national territory of Morocco to many hazards of natural origin. 70% of these events are floods, the type of disaster that most affect people in Morocco and causing a significant economic damage. For all these reasons, floods management and analysis became a growing topic of discussion among the government, communities and
researchers worldwide. In Morocco, there are some efforts that are being made to promote flood hazard mapping. Those efforts are still not enough to reduce the damage caused by this natural disaster.
This paper discusses the creation of an efficient and practical solution to manage floods in Morocco. This is done by the implementation of a GIS application that aims to analyze the flood situation in the country using people testimonials and spreading awareness of the issue.
Data can be said to be the core of GIS and two data types are usually used. They are raster and vector data. Geodatabase is usually referenced to earth locations and grouped into raster and vector groups. Vector data is data that is represented as lines, polygons and points while raster is data that is cell based such as that of aerial imagery and digital elevation. There is also attribute data in GIS, which is additional information for each spatial feature that is housed in a tabular format. Metadata is the documentation of datasets in GIS and has information like when the creation of data occurred, coordinate system, last update of the data and the creator of the data. Metadata in GIS can also include details like definition of attribute data code and contacts of the data creator.
The data used by the application are high-risk flood areas. They are collected by the Hydraulic Basin Agency in Oujda, Morocco updated in 2020. The application uses 55 high risk flood areas, which are located in different regions in Morocco. The data is stored in a database; this one contains the names of those areas and their latitude and longitude. The database will be used by the app to find the closest risk area from a certain location and also to store the user’s testimonial. Informations that are going to be given by users will be the data used by organizations to respond to people’s needs or to have some updates of flood’s situation in a certain region.
A snapshot of the database
A hazard map is a map that highlights areas that are affected by or are vulnerable to a particular hazard. They are typically created for natural hazards, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, flooding and tsunamis. Hazard maps help prevent serious damage and deaths.
An important step of managing a risk requires the identification of this risk and knowing its location. This is exactly what maps offer to us. Flood hazard mapping is crucial for providing
general knowledge and could establish a prediction of disasters beside of being a powerful tool in making decisions.
The app has an interface that contains a Web Map that shows the flood risk areas in some regions in Morocco. The map uses a topographic base map and vector data, which is labelled flood risk areas feature. It also shows the user’s current location, so he can
see how much he is close to a certain risk area, and if he lives in one. He also have a complete control of this map so he can zoom and out to the location he is interested in.
A snapshot of the app’s map interface
Allowing people to enter their testimonials aims to make the organization that uses this GIS application to be more accessible to populations affected (or likely to be affected) by floods, by giving them a transparent, fair and efficient system to respond to their concerns / complaints about possible environmental damage.
In this page, the user can give his testimonial by filling some required information. The user who can fill that information can be an individual, a town council or a provincial council. The testimonial can be from a victim of floods that needs help, a complaint about a certain situation caused by floods or giving informations about a new risk area.
By collecting these informations, the organization that uses this GIS application can have a better understanding of the situation of people who are affected by this hazard. It will also allow them to help those people and to have some updates about the state of certain isolated areas. It is also a way to improve the application by knowing its limitations.
A snapshot of the app’s testimonials interface
Knowing the closest risk area can be very useful for people who live nearby rivers, and to prevent people from living in a high-risk area. This page allow users to know which are the five closest risk areas based on the entered latitude and longitude. It uses the Haversine and the spherical low of cosines formulas in order to calculate distances from the user location and all areas in the database, then ordering those distances.
A snapshot of the app’s closest risk area searcher interface
One of the main objectives of the app is to prevent people from the damage caused by floods. This requires a good knowledge of this
hazard. This app has an interface that contains some useful informations about floods. Those informations are easy to read and to understand since the application can be used by anyone and not only educated people.
A snapshot of the app’s informations interface
Weather informations would make the application more useful by allowing users to have predictions of a possible coming flood. In this case, the application will send warning notifications to people who live close to a certain risk area. Those informations are generally based on satellite remote sensing data. The application also needs to be updated daily in order to be more effective in preventing people.
Throughout human history, natural disasters have been viewed as acts of God against which humans were helpless. It has only been in the last half-century that agencies have begun efforts to mitigate the extent of damage suffered during natural disasters. By discouraging construction altogether in areas prone to disasters or by ensuring improved construction and requiring retrofitting of existing structures in such areas, federal, state, and local agencies have learned that massive destruction and societal upheaval need not always occur.
In recent years, the use of GIS technologies in managing risks is increasing, because of its importance in analyzing the hazard and giving useful predictions in order to prevent people from a serious damage. Despite of its several advantages, the use of GIS applications to manage floods or using the hazard flood mapping is still limited in developing countries, because of the lack of investments in such projects and scientific research that aim to promote these technologies.
Geoinformation for disaster and risk management Examples and best practices – Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies, United Nation Office for Outer Space Affairs. p. 7-12.
Silvio Jorge C. Simões, Isabel Cristina de Barros Trannin3GIS APPLICATION IN FLOOD MANAGEMENT – A CASE STUDY PARAIBA DO SUL BASIN, SOUTHEAST BRAZIL. p. 28-29.
BOUKHATEM Lamia, ABBASSA Mohamed Master thesis in GIS. First chapter.
Informations about floods and safety tips from < 1scivilizedtribe.maps.arcgis.com>
High-risk flood areas data from
Kingdom of Morocco Minister of the Interior: practical guide KNOWING AND ASSESSING RISKS OF NATURAL DISASTERS IN MOROCCO. p. 6.
Program Manager, MicrosoftAuthor
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