Natural Hazards

, Volume 86, Supplement 1, pp 151–176 | Cite as

Spatial exposure aspects contributing to vulnerability and resilience assessments of urban critical infrastructure in a flood and blackout context

  • Alexander FeketeEmail author
  • Katerina Tzavella
  • Roland Baumhauer
Original Paper


Blackouts aggravate the situation during an extreme river-flood event by affecting residents and visitors of an urban area. But also rescue services, fire brigades and basic urban infrastructure such as hospitals have to operate under suboptimal conditions. This paper aims to demonstrate how affected people, critical infrastructure, such as electricity, roads and civil protection infrastructure are intertwined during a flood event, and how this can be analysed in a spatially explicit way. The city of Cologne (Germany) is used as a case study since it is river-flood prone and thousands of people had been affected in the floods in 1993 and 1995. Components of vulnerability and resilience assessments are selected with a focus of analysing exposure to floods, and five steps of analysis are demonstrated using a geographic information system. Data derived by airborne and spaceborne earth observation to capture flood extent and demographic data are combined with place-based information about location and distance of objects. The results illustrate that even fire brigade stations, hospitals and refugee shelters are within the flood scenario area. Methodologically, the paper shows how criticality of infrastructure can be analysed and how static vulnerability assessments can be improved by adding routing calculations. Fire brigades can use this information to improve planning on how to access hospitals and shelters under flooded road conditions.


Vulnerability assessment Critical infrastructure Electricity Routing Network analysis Civil protection 



We would like to thank the experts for their readiness for the interviews and provision of information. We would like to thank Jessica Bussing and Lukas Edbauer for assistance in certain data search and compilation. We are grateful to the guest editors for inviting us to this paper and thus inspiring us for the work conducted.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Rescue Engineering and Civil ProtectionTH Köln - University of Applied SciencesCologneGermany
  2. 2.Lehrstuhl für Geographie Physische GeographieInstitut für Geographie und GeologieWürzburgGermany

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