Flood Scenario:

Let's say Hannah is out visiting the Zurich Opera house. When the show is over, they head a few streets down to Seehoftstrasse, where their car is parked. They see a weather alert on their phone: A flash flood is expected to strike Zurich within the next few hours. It has already started raining. Should they leave their car there and take a cab to the hotel in the city center? Should they instead drive to the hotel and park their car in the hotel's garage? Once they make it to the hotel, will they be safe at their ground-level room or should they ask for a room at a higher level?

They go to Flut-Schutzengel and check if a flood is likely to strike where they are. They see that both Seehoftstrasse, where their car is parked, and Josefstrasse, where their hotel is located, are flood-danger zones!! Thus, parking in either place would be a bad idea. They decide to park the car in a garage a few streets East, where the elevation is much higher, take a cab to the hotel, and ask to be located in a room on floor 3.

Meet Flut-Schutzengel, a.k.a. your Flood-guard

With Flut-Schutzengel, we provide an interactive map, where users can look up "flood danger-zones" and contours near themselves to see higher areas of elevation, they can see "gardens and parks" in which they can petition for planting more trees, they can see if there are "Swiss glaciers" nearby which will endanger the land they plan to buy if climate change were to get worse, and they can gather information on "earthquakes," afterwaves of which can affect the water elevation in their city. Our Beta is based in the city center of Zurich, Switzerland.

Our Solution to:


Description: Floods are water-overflow events, where a piece of land that is usually dry becomes submerged underwater. Floods not only disrupt our lives, but they can also devastate us by loss of property, resources, and, sadly, life. The World Health Organization reports that over 2 billion people have been affected globally by floods between 1998 and 2017 and they predict that the frequency and the intensity of floods will increase as a result of climate change and the increase in civic activities [1].

App-solution: Flood-danger zones; e.g., low-elevation residences that are to be affected when water-level rises by 1 to 2 m, are highlighted on a 3D map, where users can see street names and buildings in the to-be-affected areas.

Main causes for floods

  • Deforestation

Description: Forests preserve water balance and act as physical guards against fast-flowing water during a flood. Losing forests make the land drier and less furtive, increasing landslides and the movement of soil towards river banks.

App-solution: Gardens & parks are mapped for people to petition to plant more trees on with relevant info-layer for area and address.

  • Straightening of rivers

Description: Dirt and residue gather on river banks, flattening out the river, shrinking available area for water to flow, closing river-branches, etc., which can raise water-levels.

App-solution: Contour lines show where water-fall can impact more (areas at lower height) with the relevant info on their length and height.

  • Climate change

Description: Water-elevation (e.g., of Lake Zurich) can rise due to excessive rainfall, water from melting glaciers, tsunamis, and other water imbalance caused by earthquakes, all can result from climate change.

App-solution: Swiss glaciers are highlighted with the relevant database-layer, where the user can see location & area + Common epicenters of Earthquake-events are marked with relevant information-layer.

Xylem: Who they are & why we want to join

We are here to give back to our global community by proposing a guardian database, where our Beta version is for people to prepare against floods near Zurich, Switzerland. Overall, we think our solution goes in spirit with the Xylem Ignite team, where we volunteer to come up with collaborative and creative solutions for environmental disruption, especially relating to water damage. We have also benefited from the strong network of the Xylem community as we found our team members, united for a positive environmental impact, and learned from the presentations of Xylem members, as we built our solution.

Flut-Schutzengel (Flood-guard) Details

Tech & build

We had a very diverse team, and we used all of our skills to incorporate a data-driven interactive map that has flood activity information. We first added the layer for contours in Zurich, available from ArcGIS servers. To add in the flood-danger zones, we traced along the water-elevation+2m contour lines (these are at 408 m, whereas Lake Zurich has water elevation at approximately 406 m), and formed polygons using Esri ArcGIS platform and typing in individual coordinates for each point on the polygon. This was time-consuming, but we hope this information will be useful for people who live near central Zurich to learn about where to avoid going during a flood and when purchasing real estate. Then, we’ve added feature layers, which were available on the ArcGIS servers. These layers hold physical attributes and information about gardens & parks that can hold forests, the Swiss Alps that can cause an overflow of water when the glaciers start melting due to climate change, and earthquakes & their effects as recorded in the past until 2019.

What’s next?

  • Highlighting the flood danger zones worldwide

  • Adding labels or interface to make it more user-friendly

  • Adding in information & databases from the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) and the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) - E.g., write and customize a feature layer that has safety information from EFAS and GloFAS for people who encounter floods.

  • Combining the app with real-time SQL databases and decentralizing - E.g., design a dApp that records information on earthquakes and flood-related events in real-time.

  • Pushing the io version of the app to a secure host

  • Making the Android app available stand-alone and 3D, where the user can click on the layers - We may need to contact ArcGIS services to learn more about the differences between the resources of ArcGIS Java platform and the Java-API we want to use for Android.

  • Writing and publishing an Apple app likewise

Map Guide

1) Areas under high flood-risk

(colour: teal/cyan - type: area)

(City center, Zurich/CH)

These areas are expected to go under-water when the water elevation rises by 1-2 m. This includes risks from the following:

  • A typical Zurich flood goes up to 1.5 m above the current waterline (at 406 m).

  • Within the next 100 years, water elevation in Europe is expected to rise by 1-2 m.

2) Contour lines

(colour: violet/purple - type: line)

(Zurich/CH) Heigh profile of the city

3) Gardens and parks

(colour: gray - type: area)

(Zurich/CH) Populating these areas with trees/forestation will help slow-down flood-flow

4) Swiss Glaciers

(colour: cornflower/blue - type: area)

(CH) Potential water flow from these are expected due to global warming within the next

5) Earthquakes and Tsunami events

(colour: yellow&blue - type: circle)

(World) Zoom out to continental view to view these


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