Bergisches Hochwasserwarnsystem (HWS 4.0)

The consortium – consisting of University of Wuppertal, Wupper Association, WSW Wuppertaler Stadtwerke, Heinz Berger Maschinenfabrik, Bergische Struktur- und Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft and Bergisch Chamber of Industry and Commerce – is developing a highly networked, AI-based sensor early warning system for the Wuppertal-Solingen-Remscheid city triangle.

The consortium of the “Bergisches Hochwasserwarnsystem (HWS 4.0)” flagship project at the presentation of the funding approval by NRW Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Mona Neubaur. ©MWIKE NRW

Press release

The press release on the Hochwasserschutzsystem 4.0 flagship project (10.4.2024)

Highly networked sensor technology and artificial intelligence for a flood warning system in the Bergisch city-triangle

With the “Bergisches Hochwasserwarnsystem (HWS 4.0)” project funded by the NRW Ministry of Economic Affairs, a plan is being launched in the Bergisch city triangle of Wuppertal-Solingen-Remscheid to enable an early response to heavy rainfall events and the associated flood risks.

Detecting impending floods along rivers earlier and thus saving lives and preventing damage: This is the aim of HWS 4.0 using artificial intelligence, which is currently being developed on the initiative of regional research and industry in the Bergisches Land region. The HWS 4.0 is designed to detect hazards more precisely than established warning systems and can therefore trigger a targeted alarm if bodies of water threaten to burst their banks. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is funding the project with a total of 2.8 million euros.

The warning system is designed to enable the data-driven prediction of regional water levels and flood risks, taking into account the current weather situation and other environmental factors. A highly interconnected sensor system will be used to record water levels at bodies of water, retention basins and canals, as well as rainfall, underwater pressure, humidity and wind direction. Artificial intelligence, which is being developed at the Chair of Technologies and Management of Digital Transformation at the University of Wuppertal, will recognize patterns in this data that are associated with an increase in water levels. This sets the project apart from traditional methods that are calculated on the basis of hydrological models. In the future, information on local water levels, forecasts and warnings will be provided to companies at risk in real time via the HWS 4.0 app, which is being developed by the Wupperverband.

In developing the new technologies, the project participants are also working together with the North Rhine-Westphalia State Agency for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection (LANUV) and other regions in North Rhine-Westphalia. The two dissemination partners, the Bergische Struktur- und Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft and the Bergische IHK, are already working on setting up a supra-regional network for flood protection in NRW during the project period. The system will be available to all regions in North Rhine-Westphalia once it has been successfully introduced in the Bergisches Land.

Flagship updates

HWS 4.0 at the polis Convention
Insights into how artificial intelligence can help with flood protection will be provided by the project participants on 24 & 25 April 2024 in Düsseldorf (Stand A 05.2)
Blog post: “Countering floods with AI with more than sandbags”
How AI projects from NRW can help protect the economy and society from the effects of heavy rainfall
© AKrasov/ & KI.NRW
Flagships powered by KI.NRW
More about our KI.NRW flagship projects

Voices on the project

Mona Neubaur

Minister for Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

“Climate change is becoming increasingly noticeable here in North Rhine-Westphalia and the effects can be dramatic, as was the case with the flood disaster in summer 2021. This makes it even more important to have warning systems that can reliably detect and report impending flood levels at an early stage. The Hochwasserschutzsystem 4.0 project in the Bergisches Land region shows how artificial intelligence can help to take the necessary protective measures in a timely manner in case of an emergency, thus saving lives and preventing major damage to buildings and infrastructure. This creates long-term security for companies and strengthens the important industrial locations in our upland regions.”

© Land NRW/R. Sondermann

Stephan A. Vogelskamp

Managing Director of Bergische Struktur- und Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft mbH

“With this project, we are bringing together the potential of the Bergisch city-triangle in business and science. Even more than that: the application-oriented development of the Hochwasserschutzsystem 4.0 uses the latest technologies to create a product that can be used in many other regions – AI flood protection ‘Made in the Städtedreieck’!”

Dr. Andreas Groß

Managing Director of the Berger Gruppe and initiator

“Heavy rainfall events will occur much more frequently in the future and, without reliable warning systems, will cause major damage from flooding and endanger people, as was the case in July 2021 in various regions in North Rhine-Westphalia. The flooding of the Berger Group’s production areas in Wuppertal was the initial spark for the development of an AI-controlled and sensor-based water level forecasting and warning system for the Wupper and streams in the Bergisches Land region. To this end, sensors with ultrasound and pressure measurement technology are being further developed, networked and evaluated with artificial intelligence so that, in the end, water levels can be predicted locally at the endangered areas and queried online by citizens using an app. The project is therefore an innovative and sustainable application of artificial intelligence.”

© Malte Reiter Fotografie

Dipl.-Ing. Karl-Heinz Spies

Division Manager: Water Management Basics – Services and Future Issues. Wupperverband

“In the HWS 4.0 project, we are researching how artificial intelligence can help to evaluate data faster, make more accurate predictions for different locations at the same time and therefore inform people and emergency services more quickly. An AI-supported system could improve the data-driven prediction of regional water levels and flood hazards, taking into account the current weather situation and other environmental factors. Our joint project, as part of the NRW cluster of cutting-edge AI research, is thus setting new standards for the intelligent evaluation of mass data in a river basin for more sustainable and transferable flood prevention.”

Dr.-Ing. Richard Meyes

Scientific Project Manager HWS at the University of Wuppertal

“We have been researching artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential applications in an academic environment for many years. With the HWS 4.0 project, we have the opportunity for the first time to use AI to protect the homes and property, and the bodies and souls of citizens in NRW. The social responsibility is enormous and we are proud to be able to take on this challenge so that a disaster like the one in July 2021 does not happen a second time.”

Dr. Christian Temath

Managing Director KI.NRW


“In view of climate change, it will be necessary to better protect people as well as infrastructure, residential and industrial facilities from extreme weather events such as floods in the future. The Flood Warning System 4.0 project shows that artificial intelligence can play a key role in this. State-of-the-art sensor technology and AI make precise forecasts and therefore early flood warnings possible. We are convinced that this project will set new standards in the introduction of protective measures.”

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