Confronting modern spatial problems by overcoming historical-limitations of traditional GIS modelling

(Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, Amersfoort, The Netherlands)

Keywords: historical GIS; spatiotemporal climate adaptation policies; historical data integration

Over the last few decades the impact of climate change and corresponding weather extremes in the Netherlands increasingly has become evident. In order to better protect the country against these extremes the Dutch government has initiated an intergovernmental ‘Delta’ program. Through this initiative cities are obliged to develop planning policies that cope with weather extremes such as extreme rainfall or droughts. Besides traditional flooding, heat has become an increasing problem for cities in the Netherlands. Not only damaging buildings, but also risking the health of especially the sick and the elderly. In order to help cities develop (spatial) adaptation policies coping with these extremes, the ‘stress-test climate adaption’ was developed. Built-up out of several GIS-based models, this test depicts possible bottlenecks for flooding or inner-city heat. Despite being multidisciplinary, these models are solely based on contemporary variables and contain almost no historical data on geophysical setting or town development and morphology. Consequently, the current models ignore crucial spatiotemporal variables essential for accurate climate stress-test calculations.
In order to increase the chronological resolution of the climate adaptation stress-test models a number of municipalities, reflecting many of the old historical towns in the Netherlands, have asked the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) for additional historical (spatial) data. This way the GIS-based models will not only be more accurate but also better equipped for incorporating town-specific heritage situations.
In this contribution we will present several examples of expanded stress-test climate adaptation models incorporating historical water systems, natural-landscape dynamics, climate change and urban morphology. The resulting models show the essentiality of integrating (1) cultural and natural data, and (2) modern and historical data. Additionally, these models underline the importance of cultural-heritage research for modern policy and planning purposes.

Relevance for the conference: this paper gives an example of using modern GIS technologies for integrating historical data into modern policy making
Relevance for the session: this paper shows how limitations of traditional GIS approached can be overcome by integrating historical water board data into modern climate adaptation policies
Innovation: A new way of georeferencing historical maps to make a integrated spatiotemporal GIS for policy makers