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Essential protection against natural risks

Protective structures against natural risks are vital infrastructures designed to mitigate risk by acting directly on natural phenomena, thereby reducing randomness, such as floods and rockfalls. These structures, which include a range of facilities such as blocks and dykes, play an essential role in making communities more resilient in the face of climatic risks. Proper management of these structures within a community is crucial to ensuring the safety of residents, preserving agricultural land and safeguarding local heritage.

There are two types of protection system: active and passive. Active systems intervene directly at the source of risks to reduce the probability of their occurrence, such as block-net systems on unstable rocky slopes. Passive systems, on the other hand, limit the consequences of the risk once it has occurred. For example, an embankment system directs run-off to limit the overflow of water (flooding) towards inhabited areas.

Strategic importance and challenges of managing these structures

At the heart of every region, the management of natural risk protection structures is of vital strategic importance, requiring constant vigilance, preventive measures and meticulous planning.

The challenges faced by local authorities in relation to these structures are manifold. Firstly, there is the public safety aspect, as these structures are designed to protect local populations and reduce the risks to their safety. Secondly, damage caused by natural disasters can result in considerable financial losses for individuals, businesses and local governments. Maintaining these structures requires significant financial and human resources, which can be a challenge for many communities. Finally, there are also environmental issues to consider, as some protection structures can have impacts on local ecosystems and biodiversity, requiring careful planning and management to maximise their impact.

How can local authorities balance these imperatives while ensuring a proactive approach to protecting local communities?

Digitalisation for optimum management of these structures

One approach to control the risk associated with natural risks would be to combine digital technology with the management and maintenance of these structures within the local authority.

By using asset management solution such as Beyond Asset, the department in charge of natural risks can centralise all its activities relating to these structures. First and foremost, gathering information and listing existing structures, as well as the new structures put in place, becomes simple and more accessible. An adapted and flexible approach is needed to provide information on their breakdown and their geographical, structural and technical data. Secondly, with a mapping module, a more global view of the zone at risk, as well as the structures in place, makes it easier to navigate around the territory and to have an overall strategic vision. Finally, digital monitoring of inspections and maintenance enables proactive management, quickly identifying weak points and planning the necessary work.

By being able to centralise the management of their structures, local authorities can ensure that work is properly planned, while controlling their risks and budgets more efficiently.

A user-friendly solution that respects management policies and encourages collaboration between stakeholders offers a modern response to the current challenges posed by natural risks, strengthening the resilience of territories.

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