By the end of their visit, the project that Joeri and his team were a part of had changed. They had experienced first-hand the precarious position of Japan, and the will of their Japanese colleagues to collaborate with subject-matter experts, to find the perfect balance of global solutions and local context.
Both parties held great respect for the other's approach to disaster prevention - and saw that both had merit. They decided each of them would play to their strengths, to forge a collaboration that sets a marker for climate resilience across borders: “Part of collaboration is knowing when to step back,” Joeri continues: “and we weren’t interested in doing everything. We were interested in providing value to the client and their local consultants; and to, together, build resilience for the airport and ultimately the entire Kansai and Osaka region that relies on it every day.”
Joeri and his team got to work applying their Dutch expertise in this new perspective. The NACO & Royal HaskoningDHV team firstly analysed the relevant climate and environmental factors the airport was exposed to, before carrying out an analysis of how critical different assets - runways, air control towers, cargo areas - were to the airport’s operations. Once this was completed, the team began to review what the impact of flooding would have on them and what adaptations could be made.
If it all sounds a little technical, it’s because it is. In translating their insights to Kansai Airport and its stakeholders, the team understood the potential communicative barrier of sharing their analysis and made use of a unique digital innovation: The Circle Tool. The dynamic visual tool shows the different airport assets as segments that make up a circle - and shows how inter-related they are:
“Through The Circle Tool, we could show that if you had flooding in a substation, causing it to fail - and that substation feeds power to a pumping station that’s supposed to pump away seawater that overtops the sea-defences; the cascading effect is quickly identifiable. Flooding at that one point could end up with water reaching a terminal basement, a switch room and then cutting power to the terminal - exactly as it did with Typhoon Jebi. If we could see this, then we could explain the prioritisation of works to stop it.”
Throughout their work, Joeri and his team collaborated with Kansai Airport to better understand constraints, share new insights and ultimately, deliver results - always led by the humility that had brought them to this point: “We built simulations of the flooding caused by Typhoon Jebi, working with our counterparts at the airport who provided information on flood depths at the time for the calibration of our model - and once we had that, we could start exploring with different adaptations and mitigation measures.”
One of the measures saw the team make use of a canal that sat between the southern and northern islands of the airport: “We saw that if you could close off the canal at both ends, you could use it as a catchment area for flood water. If you could guide the water to the area during a flood event, then the canal could retain the water until the storm has passed, water levels had decreased, and the retained water could be slowly released.”
“We simulated the impacts and effectiveness of different drainage channels to guide the water towards the canal, in order to propose a solution that would allow the airport to be restarted in one or two days.”
We are always looking for talents who want to collaborate closely with colleagues, clients and stakeholders and offer a new perspective to illustrate the bigger societal and technological picture. Talents who uses their deep domain knowledge to shape innovative solutions to make the transition to smart and sustainable possible. All the while considering the ethical implications of these solutions, to ensure we are driving positive change at every level: globally and locally, for our today and our tomorrow.