Large scale culvert generation

Together with the Water Authority Aa & Maas we have been developing a new algorithm to generate potentially missing culverts. 

In the previous blog we discussed how to get to a high detail simulation (beyond a billion grid cells). Now that we have this high detail simulation, we also need to enrich it with accurate data. A lot of that data is available via Geo data sources. However, data on culverts (a tube connection between two waterways) is usually only available for the larger waterways that are part of the Water Authority’s registry. 

Unfortunately, most culverts that are situated in smaller waterways, e.g. canals and ditches running along roads are unknown or undocumented. Despite the fact that these culverts have a large impact on how the water system behaves. Without culverts, the waterways will just fill up and create local floodings. It is therefore essential to know all culvert locations in order to do a proper simulation. Fortunately, most missing culvert locations can easily be identified using expert knowledge. 

We have been trying to put this expert knowledge into an algorithm that can be used on a large scale, detecting thousands and thousands of previously unknown small culverts. Our strategy is to first detect all potential culvert locations and filter out the locations that are unlikely or outside the parameters. Below is a description of the steps in the algorithm.  

Step 1: We start by calculating the shortest distance between all waterway polygons, ignoring water bodies like lakes and ponds, within an adjustable “Min & Max Length” filter. This can easily be done in parallel and results in a dataset of thousands of lines between all waterway polygons.

Step 2: After that, we reposition the line so that it is properly within the waterway and not directly on the border. Using a buffer operation the line can also be extended to a polygon with the adjustable “Width” parameter.

Step 3: When connecting to waterways the space between them may not be occupied by another waterway, water body or building. Using a Quadtree data-structure we can do a fast check whether they are intersecting.

Step 4: The Road rule. A lot of potential culvert connections go beneath roads when there are two waterways on opposite sides of the road. However, only a few result in actual crossings, except for driveways that lead to local farms or houses. Driveways are usually smaller road polygons and therefore all roads smaller then an adjustable “Main Road Area” parameter are accepted. For the remaining larger roads we only accept a connection when the waterway leading up to the crossing is straight for a preset “Straight Distance” parameter. This way, all parallel waterways are ignored and only when the waterway is perpendicular to the road, a connection is accepted.


Step 5: The levee rule. A culvert is also not likely to go below a levee. Since this is a potential levee risk, this is usually already part of the known culvert dataset of the Water Authority controlling the levee. To detect a levee one can use the min and max value along the culvert route in the elevation map. When the difference between them is larger then the adjustable “Height Difference” threshold, the connection is ignored.

Step 6: Sort on distance. After these five steps, that can fully be done in parallel on the CPU (Tygron Platform has hundreds of CPU Cores) the original dataset of culverts is significantly reduced and will now be sorted on length. We prefer short culvert distances, so they are first. 

Step 7: Placements. Starting with the shortest, the culverts are added to the map when there is no existing culvert already in place (e.g. a culvert from the existing Register dataset). Furthermore an existing nearby culvert may not connect the same two waterways (e.g. an identical culvert running in parallel to the generated one). And finally the existing culvert that leads to another waterway may not have the same entry or exit location.

Running these steps generates a new dataset of culverts that can be used in the simulation. They all have a source tag, which allow users to easily remove and rerun the culvert generation process with different parameters. Some areas, for example coastal regions, may have large levees and require a different “Height difference” parameter then a more rural inland area. Fortunately, the generation process can also be applied to sub regions of the project.

Finally this algorithm depends on the availability of certain Geo data sources. For example in the Netherlands we use as data sources: water (BGT and Top10NL), roads (NWB, BGT and Top10NL), buildings(BAG), elevation model (AHN).

To wrap it up, the generation process is not 100% perfect, but better then having no data. And using the parameters in a clever way, you can also focus on a subset of connections that would most likely require a human expert check to validate.

The created algorithm was tested and used for a large scale project of the Water Authority Aa & Maas to calculate watershed areas. In this project of the whole registry area (60 x 60 km), the known culverts were imported. With the water connection generator, approximately 50 000 culverts were generated. Next the watershed module was used to calculate watershed areas.  Because the waterways were connected by the (generated) culverts, less fragmented watershed areas were being calculated.

For more information about the water connection generator, see the documentation: And please let us know if you have any suggestions on how to further improve the algorithm!

How simulation software can improve the support of environmental management.

Interview with Henk van Hardeveld (Waternet)

In times where digital tools which enable for simulating various urban scenarios are gaining a more prominent role in urban planning processes and public management, it is crucial to investigate how the urban planners and policymakers engage with them and what influence can they have on urban management.  Henk van Hardeveld, a team leader of Hydrology and Ecology at Waternet is a scholar who in his work investigates such issues. In his work, he has gained considerable experience in working with the Tygron Geodesign Platform which has been a case study to his research on how simulation software can improve the support of environmental management. In an interview with Tygron about his research, he shares the insights that he gained during his research on the users’ experience with Tygron’s software.

Workshop session where the participants engage with the Tygron Platform.

The questions for the interview with Henk van Hardeveld were posed in relation to his research on the influence of interactive simulations on environmental management. [1] In his research, he tested ISS (interactive simulation system) with real-world stakeholders in multiple interactive workshop sessions, through questionnaires and video recordings of the sessions. The case used for his research was the collective management of Dutch peatlands for which an ISS was developed on the base of the Tygron Platform. The interview evolved around four key issues.

How to stand the test of critical reflection on the tool and data

The participants that took part in the workshop were experts in the field and because of their domain knowledge they did not take the results shown by the simulation for granted. The outcome that the stakeholders were often sceptical about was the estimation of costs and profits given by the software. According to van Hardeveld, some of the participants were curious about the data, which was used in the simulation. Because of the tight schedule of the session though, there was little time to explore the actual data sets that were loaded into the tool. However, key settings could be easily adjusted at the start of the session, using the input of the participants. Therefore, the tool was perceived by the participants as credible and legitimate. According to the interviewee, it also evoked trust because the ISS was designed by experts on the Dutch peatlands and because of the fact that the tool is fully customisable. 

How to use the tool successfully

In the experience of the interviewee, the way to use the tool successfully depends on the level of expertise of the participants in the interactive sessions. A team of participants which consists of only experts will do just fine. They not only have extensive knowledge in the field but are also able to understand the data and the technicalities of the software in a relatively short period of time. Another fruitful possibility is a team which consists of a person who is skilled at using the tool and a person who focuses on the scenario and negotiating a solution. From the observations of van Hardeveld, such combination results in effective collaboration within the team.  The last type of a team is one that consists of users which are neither familiar with the tool nor experts in the discussed problem. According to the van Hardeveld, the work of such a team is not very fruitful without a proper instruction. Otherwise, the technological aspect of the workshop turns out to be too complicated. In order for the session to be successful, you need to allocate more time to explain the use of the software and the background of the posed problem.

Reactions to the software

The interviewee has observed among the participants both enthusiastic and hopeful attitudes towards the software, as well as strong enthusiasm for solving real-world issues with the help of a ISS. According to the interviewee, the informal and friendly atmosphere of the session and the game-like character of the tool contributed, for the most part, to a better engagement in dialogue and negotiations as well as increased the productivity of the participants. The one thing almost everybody mentioned was that they gained a better understanding of the stakes of their opponents. Some even claimed this would be a big help in designing more successful deals in real-world situations. However, the interviewee also warned that real-world application requires more than just organizing one session. If you will use the tool over a longer period of time in a real-world policy process, you may encounter participants who are more sceptical towards the tool. This may also be related to the fact that it would change the work processes that they are used to. According to the interviewee, they may even fear that the new technologies and calculation models are going to replace humans making decisions. However, he does not regard this as very plausible. Instead, use of interactive simulation systems has been shown to enrich decision making in many cases around the world, enforcing rather than replacing the decision makers. 

The advantages of serious gaming for both experts and citizens

The serious game properties of the ISS are according to the interviewee beneficial to the problem-solving process.  The degree of learning amongst the participants is much deeper because they are actively taking actions in the simulation from the perspective of the stakeholder that they are representing. The users are immersed in the experience and the roles that they have assigned and try to communicate between each other and negotiate in order to broker a deal. The serious game mode deployment of the software can according to the interviewee be also a great tool for civic participation. The combination of data and the three-dimensional interface helps to present the issue to the citizen multidimensionally. It reveals relations between different aspects of the problem such as its causes as well as the impact that it has on the area. The realistic visualisation helps the citizens to identify with the area that is modelled. Moreover, during the interactive sessions with the ISS, the citizens can learn more about the objectives of the other stakeholders engaged in the discussion which helps them understand the complexity of the problem.

RE:PEAT ISS developed by van Hardeveld and his team

Besides the benefits that serious gaming has for citizens in the urban planning processes, van Hardeveld recognises a limitation to such mode of deployment, namely the time. The process of creating an ISS, depending on the complexity of the problem that needs to be visualized is very time consuming and therefore such interactive sessions do not align with the time schedule of many projects. On the bright side, there is at least one notable exception: the ISS that van Hardeveld and his colleagues created is freely available for all users of Tygron software. To underline this feature, they baptized their ISS ‘RE:PEAT’, and invite all stakeholders in peatland processes around the world the repeat their successful application of the Tygron software.


[1] van Hardeveld, H. A., P. P. J. Driessen, P. P. Schot, and M. J. Wassen. “How interactive simulations can improve the support of environmental management‒lessons from the Dutch peatlands.” Environmental Modelling & Software 119 (2019): 135-146.

Tauw makes the spatial integration of wind & solar energy explorable in three dimensions

Tauw supports the Regional Energy Strategy (RES) Noord-Holland North and Noord-Holland South with the spatial integration of wind & solar energy.

Thirty energy regions in the Netherlands are investigating, as part of the RES, in which areas they can best generate renewable energy to be energy-neutral by 2050. This process requires careful consideration. That is why stakeholders, initiators and residents are involved in this process.

Almost a year before the final RES 1.0 is due to be ready on 1 July 2021, the draft RES of each energy region had to be submitted. This was initially June 1, but due to the Corona crisis this deadline has been postponed to October 1. During the process of creating the concept RES, Tauw offered interactive design sessions in which Tauw used the 3D environment Tygron to quickly investigate and clarify the spatial compatibility of wind and solar energy. In addition, Tauw also offered 3D animations for wind & solar energy. These 3D animations were also made in Tygron.

Interactive design sessions

An interactive design session provides insight into the spatial applicability of wind and solar energy, in relation to existing spatial restrictions for wind and/or sun from laws and regulations. In preparation for the session Tauw loads the search area into the Tygron platform. In addition, the limiting contours are prepared in the Tygron platform.

During the design session, we draw a new wind or solar initiative using the 3D environment of the Tygron Platform. These suggestions are delivered to the present stakeholders. Restrictive contours from the current situation are immediately visible in the 3D environment, such as the minimum distance from windmills to homes and pipelines.

An interactive Tygron session can be used for municipalities and initiators to gain insight into the various configurations and spatial effects that await them. The interactive sessions were successfully held at the municipalities of Haarlem and Diemen. 

3D animation wind and solar energy

Tauw also uses the 3D environment of the Tygron platform for  3D animations. These are used to easily show wind and solar energy to a large audience. This is provided by translating the search areas from Tygron into a 3D movie. The film shows setups from different camera angles, such as from eye level and bird’s eye view and from far and near. In this way formations can also be spatially explored in relation to each other.

The 3D animations have been used for the municipalities of Amsterdam and Diemen and for the Gooi & Vecht region and IJmond-Kennemerland. These 3D animations were shown at residents’ evenings and were very well received.



Tygron Geodesign Platform as the building blocks of the Edible Game 1.0

The Tygron Platform has been working to support scientists of the ICRA Catalan Institute for Water Research in developing an urban serious game. Edible Game 1.0 as a part of the Edible City Network project has been designed to help the cities to implement Edible City solutions and therefore improve the liveability of urban areas.

The Edible City Network is an international initiative that strives to improve the liveability of the cities through the implementation of Edible City Solutions. The projects objective is to find solutions to make cities more sustainable by planting greenery and crops within the urban space and through that, it hopes to increase the overall social welfare of the cities and strives towards making it climate and future proof.  The project is a result of multidisciplinary collaboration between different scholars, universities, local city administrators and non-governmental organizations and private enterprises all around the world which all work together for the same goal.

Tygron too plays a role in the initiative by giving the building blocks to a serious game Edible Game 1.0. The game has been developed by a team of scholars from the ICRA Catalan Institute for Water Research involved in the EdiCitNet project. Josep Pueyo-Ros, Lluís Corominas, Joaquim Comas, Joana Castellar and Alexandra Popartan have developed the game in the hope that it will help with designing the transition of the cities into spaces which align with the objectives of the Edible City Networks. The game was designed to present the major urban challenges and to understand how different Edible City Solutions can address them. It provides the players with knowledge base and methodology to successfully implement the Edible Cities Solutions which will suit their city’s needs best.

Edible Game 1.0 – street view of Girona

The first version of the game has been based on the map of Girona, the city where the game’s designers are based in. The game however, because of the fact that the Tygron Platform is based on a gaming engine,  can be applied to and played in all of the cities that belong to the Edible Cities Network. The game can be played from 9 different perspectives, as every player represents a different stakeholder group. Among them are the municipality, tourism promoter, neighbour’s organization and the educational sector. In order to reach an optimal outcome in the game and implement the Edible City Solutions successfully, the players need to be in constant dialogue with each other. Every player has a defined budget and goals that they are striving towards. All of the players’ actions influence the indicators which in order for the scenario to be a success, need to be kept at a certain level. For the purpose of the game, new indicators such as the absorbed NO2, people involved, jobs created and food production were created. During the gameplay, the players make use of different overlays which help them to make informed decisions. These overlays give the players the access to information on, among others, the heat stress effect, distance to green areas, NO2 emissions, food production and the locations of plots available for urban agriculture.

NO2 emissions overlay showing the concentration of NO2 in the city of Girona

The game can be used by policymakers and urban planners for scenario testing as it provides feedback on taken actions. In real time, it visualizes the changes made in a 3D model of the area and indicates what influence they have on different aspects of the area. The simulation properties of the software make it a tool perfectly suitable for experimentation and testing different proposed solutions.  Moreover, because of the fact that the game is played by various stakeholders which need to debate with each other during the game play to reach a desired outcome, the Platform is a tool suitable for participatory planning approach where the citizens discuss about a problem together with urban planners. The game gives the players the opportunity to empathize with the other stakeholders of the city and understand their, sometimes conflicting, interests.

The holistic approach to city planning with the Tygron Platform

In 2021 the Netherlands will face a major change in environmental laws. The approaching implementation of the Omgevingswet (Environment and Planning act) is expected to bring many improvements for citizens, but also requires the reorganization of  work processes of municipalities and a shift in their approach to city planning. In  order to find out what the future of city planning will look like, and in order to see if tools like the Tygron Platform can be important in the process, Tygron reached out to Hans Wisse, a former project secretary of the implementation of the Omgevingswet in The Hague Municipality and an advisor at Ludanta. In his work, he has considerable experience in working with the Tygron Platform as well as in leading Serious Gaming sessions with the use of the Tygron software.

Spatial planning

In the light of the Omgevingswet, according to Wisse, there needs to be a shift in approach to city planning. Currently, the discussions about urban problems and urban solutions are conducted with limited spatial awareness and with the use of two-dimensional plans. This way, the problems are tackled with little attention to the fact that every problem exists in relation to multiple factors and that every solution to this problem will have an effect not only on the direct issue but also on the environment in which it exists. Policymakers and city planners, according to Wisse, need to start planning three-dimensionally. They need to see the space, which is the subject to their discussion as well as they need to understand the other factors which are tied to the problem that they are trying to tackle. Wisse compares the urban environment to a living organism where one problem treated by a specialist might result in major consequences for other vital organs in the body. Therefore, city planners need to treat the urban problems holistically, paying attention not only to the immediate issue but also to the effect that the solution will have on other parts of the urban ecosystem. 

Working integrally

In order for this vision to become reality, it is crucial that policymaker and planners specialized in different domains work integrally. Currently, policymakers are required to make laws and regulations for each domain individually. The cooperation between the different departments is limited yet, in light of the objectives of the new Environmental Act, in order for the city planning to be effective different specialists need to work together.

As Wisse says, such a way of working is a result of the well-established work manner within  municipalities. Switching to a more horizontal, collaborative city planning is a big step that the municipalities are slowly making. In order to make the transition process easier, Hans Wisse says that he searched for a digital medium that would help bring different stakeholders together and be a starting point to productive discussions. The tool that he saw potential in was the Tygron Platform.

Kijkduin 2- a serious game developed by Ludanta based on the Tygron Platform

With the help of Ludanta, Wisse now uses the Tygron software and serious gaming to introduce the municipality workers to a new way of planning the cities. According to him, such a way of deployment of the software is the most approachable way of introducing the new tool. Among the serious games used by Wisse to tackle city-planning problems are the Kijkduin 1 and 2 developed by Ludanta. In the interactive game sessions, different stakeholders are gathered together to debate and to find an optimal solution to a problem. In order to achieve their goals, the game requires the participants to make compromises. The team goal is more important than the goals of the individual stakeholders and in order to reach it, the participants need to negotiate and discuss the issue together. As Wisse says, the Tygron Platform provides the participants with a visual presentation of the problem area and the situation. That way, the area, and the issue discussed become transparent and the stakeholders are provided with a sense of reality. The proposed solution and the discussions held at the table are no longer two dimensional and theoretical. Thanks to the Platform, they come to life and are visualized to the participants. The problems are shown to be a part of a bigger system. It is made clear that they are a part of a web of different, co-existing aspects of the city and therefore, the participants see how important it is that the city-plans need to be made with the joined effort. The Platform provides a safe space for creative thinking, testing, and experimenting with possible solutions without the threat of making mistakes.

Civic participation

Currently, the Kijkduin application is used for gaming sessions for civil servants as well as the citizens. Both groups are however participating separately. According to Wisse, the next step is to use the Tygron Platform to hold discussions at one table with both, citizens and the city planners. Municipalities cannot succeed in their work without the input of the citizens. The citizens are the experts that the municipality needs, says Wisse. They live in the area day to day, they are the ones who know everything about the needs and the problems of their city. It is therefore crucial that these two groups work together more closely, and the cooperation between them can be made easier and more effective if supported by tools such as the Tygron Platform.

Using the Tygron Geodesign Platform within the Dutch Municipalities

In an interview with Tygron, Edward de Wit, a senior policy officer, shares his experiences in using the Tygron Geodesign Platform.

Edward de Wit is a senior policy officer working by the Authorization and Supervision department by one of the big Dutch municipalities. In his work, he is currently using the Tygron Geodesign Platform in a project about nitrogen pollution where he aims to gain insights into the nitrogen deposition caused by the building sites. Having considerable experience in using the Platform, de Wit shares in an interview with Tygron insights on affordances of the software, its practical applications and the data culture within the municipality.

Nitrogen pollution made visible in the Tygron Platform

Tygron Platform for the Environmental and Planning Act

According to de Wit, the innovation to the public management that Tygron brings, is of value in the light of the new Environmental and Planning Act which will be put to work in January 2021. One of the aims of the new law is making the spatial laws simpler and more accessible to the citizens. A solution which would help reach this goal is the so called Digtaal Stelsel Omgevingswet (DSO), a system which would let the citizen view an area on which he wants to build and show him on a map if his building plans are aligned with the rules posed by the government. Such way of verifying building plans would simplify the long and complicated procedure of applying for building permit. According to de Wit, such shift in the law is only possible once the government possesses the right tools to support such functions. Tygron, among other simulation software is suitable for this purpose. Even though the technical base for such innovations already exists, the government is cautious with handing such tools into the hands of the citizens not only because of financial matters but also because of the possible mistake margin of the calculations and the prediction performed by such software. Therefore, according to de Wit, the incorporation of simulation software in the permit assigning process is a discussion point in the government agenda, but only in distant future. 

Data culture within the municipality

In the department where de Wit works, there is not so much scepticism about the data used for the calculations in the Tygron Platform. The data which is used for the calculations belongs to the department and is accepted as the truth. In their work, the employees of the Authorization and Supervision department are also making use of the Aerius model developed by the province, therefore they do not feel the need to verify the data. Asked about the general data culture within the municipality, de Wit says that the institution has at its disposal a general ICT and data department. The municipality has however ambitious plans to strive towards becoming a more data driven municipality. To reach their goals, the municipality had developed an extensive data-strategy for the years 2020-2022. One of the objectives of the innovation programme mentioned by de Wit is that every department within the municipality should have a data specialist who would give advice on data related topics and who would help in preparing the data so that it can be reused by other departments.

De Wit is positively inclined towards the Tygron Platform. According to him, the visualisation properties of the software are impressive, and it is a great communication tool which can support the discussion among multiple specialists from various domains who decide upon the building permits. There are however steps to be taken with regard to the tool to make it available to the citizens. At first, says de Wit, the tool will be used for solving the nitrogen problem and if successful, the municipality will broaden the application of the software to other challenging issues such as the external security, noise and air quality.

Tygron for improving spatial planning in the Utrecht Province

Maarten van Helden is a senior sustainable development advisor at the Province of Utrecht who works day to day with the Tygron Geodesign Platform. In an interview with Tygron, he shares insights on the improvements that the Platform brought to his work processes, the reactions within the municipalities to the software and the collaboration between Tygron and the Utrecht Province to create new, custom features that improve the usability of the Platform.

Benefits of the Tygron Platform

According to Van Helden, the incorporation of the Tygron Platform into the work processes of the province brought beneficial change to the development of spatial plans. The major advantages of the tool are the visualisation capabilities of the software. The tool can turn a chosen two-dimensional area on the map into a three dimensional interactive model. It can be applied to any area and the user has instant access to multiple information layers (overlays) that can be drawn over the neighbourhood or area. Without the software, any change proposed to the area needs to be first calculated and subsequently, a new map needs to be drawn. This delays the decision process as drawing such plans and making the calculations can take days. The Tygron Platform, however, allows to make changes to the plan and assess their impact to the area almost instantly. That way, time and effort can be saved and the decision making and planning process can accelerate.

Quality scores developed for the Utrecht Province in the Tygron Platform

Tygron for Utrecht Province

At the Utrecht Province, the Tygron software is helping Van Helden and his team to develop quality scores of varieties of aspects of the environment. Issues such as noise pollution, air pollution, energy and soil quality are assigned a score from 1 to 10 which gives the urban planners insight into the state of these aspects in the current situation. The scores are calculated by the Tygron software automatically, however the meaning behind the numerical values is decided by Van Helden and a team of specialists who have expertise in various domains related to urban planning. In order for the plan to be approved, all indicators need to be above 6. According to Van Helden, the province is not satisfied with plans which score just above the legal minimum. The advisors are not focusing on what is allowed but they strive to explore which solutions will guarantee the best possible health and living conditions for the people. If certain scores are not satisfactory, the user can take different actions in the platform which could potentially improve the situation and test what influence on the area they will have by running a simulation. According to Van Helden, because of the fact that every decision has an influence on the other aspects of the environment, every issue and every choice needs to be discussed by multiple specialists which are involved in making the urban plans. Even though some scores are impossible to be objectively measured, they are contributing to the discussion because they put the discussed issue in context and provide the planners with a sense of perspective.

Working with Tygron to create custom solutions

While working with the Tygron Platform, van Helden and his team often rely on the assistance of the GIS department within the Utrecht Province which, holding expertise in Geo data, helps them to translate the maps into the software and create custom calculation models. According to Van Helden, even with the help of the GIS department in developing custom solutions catered to the needs of his team, there is need for thought exchange between his team and Tygron as often specialistic features need to be developed in order for the software to support his projects. Holding a partnership with Tygron, Van Helden, his team and the GIS department are in constant dialogue with Tygron and its’ developers about how the software can be adjusted, and improved, and which features can be added to meet the needs of the users.

Reactions to the software within municipalities

Through using the Tygron Platform by multiple various projects within the Utrecht Province as well as in various Dutch municipalities, Van Helden and his team have gained considerable number of insights on how the employees of governmental organizations react to the software. The visualization properties of the platform evoke positive reactions among the users and make them gain trust in visualized information quickly. It is common that the users are often impressed with the realistic image generated by the software and do not always question the scores and results predicted by the software. Even though not everyone is reflecting upon the calculations performed by the tool and the data fed into the software, there is a considerable number of users who ask good and interesting questions about the innerworkings of the tool.  According to the observations of Van Helden, the Platform is a tool which aids the discussion and by showing the issue in relation to other aspects to the area, gives context to the discussed problem and motivates the specialists to work and debate together.

Giving advice to smaller municipalities


From the experience of Van Helden and his team, the advice that they give to urban planners influences the plan initially, however, as they can only join the project for a short amount of time, the plans can develop in a different than the advised direction. As Van Helden mentions, keeping knowledge within the organization is difficult as some small municipalities have limited access to advisors with expertise in the Tygron software. He claims that best results are achieved when the Tygron Platform is incorporated in the planning process right at the beginning of the project. Changing spatial plans halfway usually results in high costs.

Looking into the future

In the interview, Van Helden mentions a number of possible applications of the Platform which might become more common in the near future. According to him, at the moment, little social data is used by the province while working with the Platform. The province has the access to basic social data such as the information about jobs and income of the area, it is however difficult to combine it with spatial planning. It is therefore not yet the focus while working with the software. Van Helden indicates however that it might be more incorporated in the future. Another possible application of the software which is exceptionally relevant in the light of the Omgevingswet (Environmental and Planning Act) is using the Platform as Digital System (DSO) which can inform the citizens about the spatial laws and help to communicates urban plans to them.

Related Post:

Climate adaptive design of the Amersfoort Station Area; How a Digital Twin can help.

It’s getting warmer and drier. Rain showers are getting shorter and heavier. It is a reason for the municipality of Amersfoort to take a good look at the design of the railway station area. The station area is centrally located in the city. A lot of people come here every day and it is an important part of the city’s economy and a central place for commuting between home and work.

The municipality would like to improve this important part of the city and make it climate adaptive. For this purpose, an area plan has been drawn up.

The area vision for the Station area in a Digital Twin For more information on the area vision, see:

How effective is the vision that the municipality has for the area? How do we keep the station area of Amersfoort liveable during a heat wave? How can we keep the station of Amersfoort accessible during an extreme rain shower?

Workshop EU project SCOREwater

These questions were central to the workshop as part of the SCOREwater project. SCOREwater ( is an H2020 project in which different stakeholders in three cities in Europe (Amersfoort, Barcelona and Gothenburg) work together to deploy and develop digital tools for making cities climate adaptive.

In the workshop, the municipality of Amersfoort, the Vallei and Veluwe Water Board looked together with Tygron into how big data, smart algorithms and a Digital Twin can help achieve better, integrated decision-making. The central topic was the climate-adaptive design of the Amersfoort railway station area, taking into account accessibility, quality of life and employment.

The climate-adaptive design of the station area should go hand in hand with important themes such as accessibility, quality of life and employment. And when different subjects come together, several departments of the municipality are involved. When different departments are involved, the complexity increases, because multiple goals, means and criteria come together in the same area.

In the workshop, we jointly worked out a number of objective criteria against which the future layout of the station area can be tested. This resulted in a number of quantitative objectives with regard to the future layout of the area, including:

  • In case of a T=100 storm, the station must remain accessible for passengers via a path of at least 10m in width. This sort of a rainfall can occur once every 100 years.
  • To reduce heat stress, the PET must drop 10 degrees Celsius. PET is a standardised representation of the degree of heat stress experienced by an average person.
  • The green/pavement ratio must be 50%

Analysis of climate adaptivity with digital twin.

The criteria for a climate adaptive design are built into the Tygron Platform. With the help of the platform a Digital Twin has been made of the station area. The software does this on the basis of geographical information about the terrain, buildings and land use. Here you can see a video of the Digital Twin of the Station Area.

Subsequently, a number of designs were tested to see whether they meet these criteria. In the Digital Twin, a T=100 shower was simulated. In the simulation of the course of the rainstorm, it can be seen that the water flows from the hill to the much lower station area and puddles arise there. For more information about the water module in Tygron, read here: .

The heat stress module has been used to calculate the wind chill temperature on an extremely hot day, as happened a few times in the summer of 2019. For more information about the heat stress module in Tygron, read here: .

It is well visible how much shade and cooling is provided in the plan of the Station area by the trees. One of the key performance indicators is the “green indicator”. This shows the ratio of green and grey (paving). One of the objectives was to achieve 50%. The analysis with the digital twin shows that the new vision achieves this goal.

The collapse of the Noordersluis water lock for learning and entertainment

Besides all the serious work that is done with the Tygron Platform, there is also room for entertainment. Like this ‘What if… case study’ by water board Zuiderzeeland.


After the water board elections of 20 March, all water boards in the Netherlands were given a new management. Often the same faces returned, but of course a lot of new board members joined. Marijke Visser and Rumanah Phentaphati of water board Zuiderzeeland decided to use the Tygron Platform (as part of a larger introductory programme) for a special quest to introduce the new members to the work and the working area.

Marijke Visser explains: “One of the questions at Wortman pumping station was what would happen if the adjoining Noordersluis water lock broke down. Where would the damage be greatest?” For the answer they used the Tygron Platform, which provided them with both, the the calculations and the visualization. Visser: “It was the first time we made a movie in the platform and it took us a few afternoons. Due to time pressure, the result is not entirely optimal, but we are actually quite satisfied”.

Visser and Phentaphati assumed that the drain gates would fail, but that the drain itself would hold, so there would be no breakage in the weir. The administrators were asked where the damage was the worst. Visser: “The flood as calculated takes 12 hours because we assume that we will have closed the lock chamber during that time. Then laughing: “We’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case in real life!”

In the video, the camera flies over Lelystad from Lelystad Airport past a few locations of the Zuiderzeeland water board (such as the water board house, AWZI and the pumping station). Watch the video and see if you can find the answer


Prime Minister Mark Rutte plays a game

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and then Minister of Infrastructure and Environment Melanie Schultz both played a role in a serious game set up by Tygron. In the session, an existing case in The Hague was discussed based on an urban planning simulation on the Tygron Platform. Rutte took on the role of project developer and Schultz represented the residents.

The session was conducted exactly as it should happen in the future, according to the rules of the new Environmental Act. Stakeholders sat around the table together at an early stage and, supported by an accurate simulation of the future situation, talked to each other in a well-informed manner. In this way, consensus is reached more quickly, and time and money are saved.

Watch the ‘crash test’ with Prime Minister Rutte here:

Vechtstromen water board carries out stress tests

The Delta Programme states that municipalities must carry out a compulsory stress test for flooding. The Tygron Platform is a perfectly suitable model for this.

The Vechtstromen water board has trained several employees in how to use the Tygron Platform. The water board uses the software to carry out a stress test in a short period of time and to then calculate the measures that need to be taken.

Tom Grobbe from the Vechtstromen water board told us:

“I was surprised how much information you can get from freely available ‘big data’. Because all kinds of different data are used, you can use the instrument for virtually all interventions in the physical living environment. We use it for water issues and heat stress, but you can also look at traffic flows, noise level, particulates, and so on. This makes it possible to make integral considerations, broader than just the water domain.

Calculation times are extremely short. This allows you to calculate measures on the spot during interactive sessions with residents. For example, you could zoom in on a resident’s backyard and see the effect of a heavy downpour on his or her garden. You can then decide to apply a measure on the spot to see what it does. If everyone gets a rain barrel, is the problem solved? And what are the costs? Do those costs outweigh the damage it prevents? And might the measure also have an impact on heat stress? That makes it very tangible. That’s the power of these instruments. It is no longer necessary to make all kinds of calculations afterwards in order to come up with a solution a few weeks later”.

You can read the whole article here: test city/

The fight against soil subsidence- RE:PEAT

Soil subsidence problems in peat meadows

Sinking of the soil leads to problems. The means to prevent that lead to problems too. Involved parties must come up with solutions together, but do they already have a clear picture of the complexity of the problem? RE:PEAT offers the insight.

Soil subsidence in peat meadows is a major problem in the Netherlands. Peat soil is ubiquitous in the country. Much of it is used as agricultural land, but housing areas have also been built on it. Because peat is subject to oxidation and subsidence, the soil sinks in unevenly. This has major consequences for buildings and agriculture, think of crack damage in buildings, fractures in the road surface and underground pipes and an increasing difference between the water behind the dikes and the land that needs to be kept dry.

The most obvious solution for subsidence is to stop the oxidation. Peat that is under water does not oxidise, so by keeping the soil wet the subsidence is significantly delayed. But this remedy also has its disadvantages. A wetter soil causes moisture damage in homes as well as has a result in crop damage and reduced water storage in case of severe rainfall.

Calculation models of the experts

Tygron was commissioned by the Stichtse Rijnlanden Water Board (HDSR) to develop RE:PEAT, an instrument to provide insight into the problem of subsidence. Using the water board’s expert knowledge as a starting point, the Tygron Geodesign Platform calculates soil subsidence over a period of 1 to 100 years. The results of this calculation are then used in calculation models to determine how much worse (or better) the situation becomes as the soil subsidence increases or decreases.

A forecast is made of the costs of water management, damage to buildings and infrastructure, flooding in case of heavy rainfall, the profitability of the farm, and the quality of both nature and water.


RE:PEAT has also been developed to explore solutions. Different stakeholders are represented within the tool.

  • The water board is in charge of water management. It can manipulate the water levels, but also bears the costs that are a result of their management.
  • Farmers have refined their business operations for the land where they now work. With this tool they can explore whether a change in their business operations is profitable in a new situation.
  • The municipality has the obligation to keep the quality and liveability of the area high, but at the same time knows that a healthy economy is of great importance.

Together, the parties negotiate and choose a set of measures that represent their interests.

Henk van Hardeveld of HDSR: “Farmers, residents, nature lovers: everyone sits at the table looking at the same screen. Everyone can see the consequences of ground subsidence for each individual stakeholder. They can react to this directly. It doesn’t get much more powerful than that to really start working together on solutions”.

Current themes

RE:PEAT has been frequently used in recent years to tackle soil subsidence, but it also appears to work very well as a means of calculation. Because the calculation models are so closely linked to the current themes there are, for example, sensitivity analyses are carried out with different scenarios. It also works as a planning tool for potential measures to tackle the problems.

A lesson in climate adaptation for municipalities

With ‘stress test in one day’, Aveco de Bondt, in cooperation with water board Zuiderzeeland municipalities, offers a powerful lesson in climate adaptation. The Tygron Platform plays an important supporting role.

Lelystad and Zeewolde are the two municipalities where employees have already completed the ‘crash course’. What does a one-day stress test like this look like?

Employees from various disciplines, such as the environment, spatial planning and infrastructure, are presented in the morning with a number of locations that are vulnerable to climate effects, such as heat stress or flooding. The Tygron Platform is used to show the issues in a 3D world.

By bike

“Officials actually get a lesson in climate adaptation first,” says Simon Troost of Aveco de Bondt. “What are the changes they can expect in the coming years and where do they come up first? We look at the problems at neighbourhood level and also at the differences between neighbourhoods. Then the solutions are explored. Of course, that doesn’t have to be a definitive solution right away. Making employees aware of the problems is an important first step. With Tygron, we looked at the effectiveness of the proposed solutions so that everyone can immediately see whether the ideas are functional.”

After the theoretical part, officials get on their bikes and visit the areas in question. There they see with their own eyes what the risks are and whether the proposed solutions are feasible.

This hands-on approach stimulates the targeted search for solutions and the coordination of the plans with the various departments.


Upon return the participants evaluate the findings of the day. Climate changes cause specific problems that require a specialistic approach. Through their joint broad expertise, the participants arrive at solutions that can quickly be applied.

Later in the evening they present the findings to the city council. There too, the Tygron Platform is used to support the story with images and data.

“The Tygron Platform is an excellent tool for a dialogue,” says Troost. “The visual character of the software provides immediate insight into the problems. It is in 3D, so the problem can be

viewed from all sides. The high calculation speed makes it possible to make and calculate adjustments right away so that the effectiveness of the measures becomes visible. Moreover, everything is based on realistic calculation models”.

Groningen and Tauw together for a climate-proof municipality

The Municipality of Groningen has already carried out the stress tests as part of the Delta Programme Spatial Adaptation (DPRA) and asked Tauw for support for the next steps, namely risk dialogue and implementation.

Senior Climate Adaptation Advisor from Tauw, Monique de Groot explains how she approaches her work: “Our method is to first conduct a dialogue internally after the stress tests and determine with each other which situations are acceptable, undesirable or unacceptable. By doing so, we set the priorities and offer an action perspective at the same time”.

An acceptable situation does not require physical measures; information and communication are sufficient. An undesirable situation is not acute but requires action over time. That is the reason for why these areas are linked to long-term maintenance plans so that they can be climate-proofed relatively easily. Unacceptable situations require immediate intervention and short-term measures.

Guiding principles

Policymakers and administrators from all levels of the municipality, safety experts, the Municipal Health Service as well as the province and the water board, are involved in the internal dialogue. This way, situations are presented from different angles and the municipality comes up with a widely supported set of guiding principles.

Monique de Groot: “A few of these guiding principles are, for example, ‘in new buildings, no water nuisance may occur from the public space in the event of a 60mm storm’ or ‘on roads, no water may be left on the street in the event of a 60mm storm’. What these guiding principles mean in practice and which measures are most effective in this respect, we have worked out together with the municipality’s project leader in the Reitdiep zone”.


The Reitdiepzone is an area under development that offers space for large-scale youth housing, social and free sector rentals for starters and properties for sale. With the Tygron Platform, the effects of this development on the occurrence of flooding in the area and the adjoining northern ring road have been mapped out. Subsequently, various cost and effectiveness

measures were calculated in the Tygron Platform, such as a water storage road, a bioswale, green roofs and raising ground levels.

The chosen measures are currently being further developed per subarea in specification drawings or are included in agreements with project developers.

Climate proof

By 2050, municipalities in the Netherlands must be climate-proof. A stress test must therefore be carried out by the end of 2019 and, following dialogue with stakeholders, an implementation programme must be drawn up by the end of 2020.

In the Delta Programme Spatial Adaptation (DPRA) standards have been drawn up for carrying out these stress tests. The municipalities themselves determine which consequences of climate change are acceptable for their areas.

The vision of the municipality of The Hague

The Tygron Platform makes it possible for the initiator, stakeholders and competent authority to, with a single click on the map, gain insight into what can and cannot be done at a certain location and what rules apply.

All relevant information comes from public sources (e.g. PDKO) or can be added by a consultancy firm or the experts from a municipality itself. All this data automatically feeds models for traffic, environment, noise and external safety and is linked to Tygron’s Geodesign Platform.

The effects of initiatives in the physical living environment are thus weighed integrally and the result of an initiative is presented to the stakeholders in an accessible way.

Important information about the living environment and the changes that are implemented in it are immediately visible in a realistic 3D world. Because the data in the model is reliable and easily available, the model helps in good and fast decision making.

Case study The Hague

The municipality of The Hague works a lot with the Tygron Platform. In order to make the municipalities long-term goals clear, the municipality of The Hague made this video.

Utrecht and Tygron together strong for energy transition

The Province of Utrecht will introduce the so-called energy dashboard on 1 June 2020. With this, the province wants to make the energy transition simpler and more transparent for all stakeholders in the region.

Therefore, on behalf of the Energy Team and GIS team of the Province of Utrecht, Tygron has developed the Tygron Energy Dashboard. This tool consists of a 3D representation of the environment (Tygron Platform) and an associated 2D online dashboard, which can be opened on a tablet, for example.

Visualizing tasks

With the Tygron Energy Dashboard the task and tensions in a specific region in relation to the total regional energy task can be clearly visualised. This is because various alternatives can be calculated quickly, and the results are then visible in the dashboard. In addition, the tool can be adapted with custom measures. The 3D view makes the plans comprehensible and insightful and is suitable for participation. This makes it possible to have a conversation with stakeholders and thus to support decision-making.

The dashboard shows the self-defined goals for various measures for sustainable energy. Measures can be added or removed.

The 3D world of an area in the province of Utrecht. Your own data can be added for enrichment such as a dataset that shows which roofs are suitable for solar panels. Scenarios can be created by loading in the plans or drawing them in the 3D world.

After planning in the 3D world, the results are visible in the dashboard. If it turns out that the targets have not been met, either an alternative scenario can be calculated, or the targets can be adjusted.

Panels appear if it is not possible to build at a specific location, for example due to noise pollution, placing wind turbines too close to each other or placing measures within hard or soft boundaries. Shadow analyses can also be carried out.


Within the Regional Energy Strategies in the Netherlands, regional, local and thematic ateliers provide input. This participatory process is an important part of the Regional Energy Strategy process in the Netherlands. The ateliers focus, among other things, on the content. Participants in these workshops can be, for example, governments, experts, residents, companies, energy companies, agricultural organisations, water boards and grid operators. Each region selects its own parties. The first assignment for the ateliers is to provide input for a concept RES in which especially the potential generation of a region is presented. After 1 June 2020 the ateliers will set to work to explore realistic locations.


Hans van den Bosch, coordinating GIS specialist at the Province of Utrecht, is satisfied with the cooperation: “The Tygron Platform is an excellent instrument for exchanging opinions on the impact of sustainable energy generation in the environment. It is a flexible tool where different scenarios can be presented. This provides valuable data and thus makes a good contribution to choices that have to be made in the spatial environment. Particularly in the phase after 1 June 2020, the energy dashboard in the Tygron Platform will make a valuable contribution to supporting the participation process”.

The Tygron Platform is also used for other themes, such as air quality, noise pollution and flooding.

If you would like more information about the energy dashboard in the Tygron Platform, please send an e-mail to or

The Economic Value of Natural Capital

Nature is not only essential for the welfare of humans and animals, it also represents great economic value. We are therefore working on a new measure of the value of so-called natural capital.

Project: Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services in Tygron

Customer: RIVM

The natural capital consists of services and supplies provided by nature. Think of food production or cooling in the city. Natural capital contributes to people’s well-being and prosperity. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has calculation models that make the improvement of health measurable in terms of years of life and money. These are available in the Atlas Natural Capital.

Particulate matter and heat stress

RIVM and Tygron have worked together to provide dynamic insight into these calculation models in the Tygron Platform. For example, the capture of PM10 (particulate matters) and the direct effect on health were implemented, as well as heat stress and building values. Together with RIVM, Tygron developed a 3D demo in which the impact of designs on ecosystem services becomes clear, and what results are for the environment.

Greenery or pavement

The demo uses data from the Atlas Natural Capital. It shows the possibilities to let green contribute to a more pleasant living environment and health. What works well and how can you asses that? What are the consequences if you place shrubs instead of pavement? What does a widening of a road do with the amount of particulate matters and noise pollution? The 3D demo makes this clear in an interactive way based on a case study around the Merwedekanaal in Utrecht.

Ton de Nijs of RIVM on the project: “We wanted to test how natural capital and ecosystem services could be elaborated in Tygron. The final demo showed very nicely how this can indeed be included in these kinds of tools”.

Atlas Natural Capital

Currently, the value of natural capital on prosperity is not yet taken into account in government and business decisions, in spatial planning or in the design of production chains. That is why a new measure of the value of natural capital is being developed. The Atlas Natural Capital helps with this. The Atlas contains a lot of information about the contributions of our natural system, ecosystems and the services they provide to us, such as food production or cooling in the city.

Simulate flooding using big data and smart algorithms

An example of Water Board Vechtstromen

Suppose a levee threatens to fail. Can I simulate the situation within 1 hour and determine the possible consequences? Water Board Vechtstromen has developed a method to quickly and comprehensively simulate flood scenarios and share the results with the Safety Region. Read below about this project.

Crisis management

Early assessment of the effects of a failing levee in the event of a calamity is crucial. If flood defences fail and flooding occurs in the management area of the Water Board Vechtstromen, the Safety Region wants answers as quickly as possible. For example, it is important to know where the power will fail and where people and livestock will have to be evacuated.

The Water Board Vechtstromen therefore started at the end of 2019 with training sessions to learn how to work with the flood module of the Tygron Platform. The aim was to quickly simulate a flood (within half a day) and to share the results with the Safety Region during a disaster.

The project started with the ‘theory’: how does the water module of the Tygron Platform work? The  company Aveco de Bondt, showed therefore a number of theoretical and practical examples, explained. The following training sessions focused on the practical side: how to use the Platform and how to model a scenario.

Simulation of the failure of the levee at the diversion channel (Dinkel). On the left you can see the water depth. The orange arrow (Diversion channel near the Beuningerveldweg) indicates the failure of the levee (the location of the breach). On the right you see the flow velocity.

Tygron, together with a number of Water Boards, has developed software to quickly simulate levee breaches using big data. The calculations are performed on a GPU supercomputer, which allows results to be generated at a very high level of detail. With the results of the calculations the impact of a possible flood can be determined accurately. And this in turn is important for the safety regions. For more information about the use of this water module, please visit:

The Tygron Platform is now widely used by water boards, municipalities, provinces and consultants. The Water Board Vechtstromen has been working with the software for performing stress tests for several years now. See also: test city/


Hydrologists from the Water Board Vechtstromen have tested what the most important factors are that determine the effects of a failing levee. From there it was determined which assumptions and choices have to be made in simulations. After all, during a calamity there is limited time to build a model.

An important choice concerned generating a new Tygron Platform project or using existing projects and configuring them during a calamity. The first option was chosen, because then you always have the most up-to-date data at your disposal. These and other choices have been incorporated in a step by step plan and corresponding explanation document to model a flooding scenario.

A test that has been done is about the importing of culverts. Culverts with a standard diameter of 1 m are imported automatically (if available). After the test, it appeared that it is important to import culverts with their actual diameter. This can give a different flooding image. In the image above the effect of culverts on the flooding is shown.

Tygron then processed the step by step plan and explanation document into a manual and a template project. With the template project, a new project can be quicly created and configured. This is because certain default settings are already configured automatically. Think of legend colours, attribute names of the data that has to be imported, the result map layers that you eventually want to use and more. Vechtstromen has prepared the data sets to be used for the entire management area of the Water Board. This allows experienced users of the Platform to create a flooding simulation within half an hour during a calamity.


In the last training the manual and the template project were tested. A number of locations where a fictitious levee breach was simulated were the Midden Regge near Den Ham, the Hoogeveense Vaart, the Vecht near Hardenberg and the Stieltjeskanaal. Results were , with the use of the manual the trained Vechtstromen employees were able to simulate flooding scenarios at the various locations in their management area within the set time. Also, the results could be exported and shared with the Safety Region.

Important for the Safety Region, for example, is the maximum water depth per location (see figure above). This and more results can be exported from the Platform in different ways and formats and shared with the Safety Region.


The manual is posted on the Wiki of Tygron where also the documentation of the software can be found. In this way, the manual can be (re)used by everyone, including other Water Boards. The fact that other Water Boards are also working on this topic is shown by the reaction of a hydrologist from the Water Board Rijn en IJssel on our forum. Rijn en IJssel also created a manual on how to simulate a flooding scenario using the Tygron Platform. It is interesting to see that these manuals contain many similarities in choices and assumptions.


Sjon Monincx, senior advisor at Water Board Vechtstromen and project leader of this project, presented the approach of Water Board Vechtstromen in the PCWMN[1]. He presented a quay breakage of the Vecht near Zwolle. Reactions from hydrologists and crisis management advisors were positive. Hydrologists found it interesting and were interested in the calculation model of the software. People from crisis management were particularly surprised by the realistic 3D images. They indicated that the directors from the steering committee should definitely see this.

The question ‘how do you know the results are right?’ was also asked. It is important to always realise that a model remains a simplification of reality and not the reality itself. The hydrologist who is is configuring the model must be well aware of how the model calculates, what it does and does not contain, what limitations there are and how realistic the results are as a result.

Curious about the manual of the Water Board Vechtstromen? Check it out on our Wiki page:

For the explanation document, see:

See also the manual of Water Board Rijn en IJssel:

1] Platform Crisisbeheersing Waterschappen Midden Nederland
(Platform Crisis Management Water Boards Central Netherlands)

Hollands Midden Safety Region: Insight into flood scenarios and action perspectives based on big data and smart algorithms

How do we get a grip on the consequences of flood scenarios, as well as on our action perspective? On 20 February 2020 a meeting of the Safety Region Hollands Midden about this topic was held. In cooperation with the Water Board Rijnland, Tygron was therefore asked to create two films to give insight on: a hypothetical case for a breach in the levee near Braassemermeer and one near Lisse.

The Tygron Platform not only calculated and visualised in 3D how the water would flow in the event of a levee breach, but also combined flood data with open data about the road network, buildings and demographics. This provides an insight into evacuation options in the event of flooding: how long will roads remain passable? Where are vulnerable buildings and how long will they remain safe, taking into account the number of floors of the buildings?

The project has been set up in such a way that employees of the Water Board Rijnland can independently prepare a possible next demonstration. They have been trained in the use of a template project that can easily be applied to other locations within the water board’s management area.

Together with a number of Water Boards, Tygron has developed a module that can quickly simulate levee breaches from big data. The calculations are performed on a GPU supercomputer, allowing results to be generated very quickly at a very high level of detail. The data processed in the project concerns, for example, critical infrastructure and buildings. With the data and the results of the calculations, the impact of a possible flood can be determined. This, in turn, is very relevant information for the safety regions. More information about the water module of Tygron:

 Tygron is now widely used by water boards, municipalities, provinces and consultants. The Water Board Rijnland has been working for several years with the software for evaluating flood scenarios and carrying out impact analyses; for more information (Dutch):

The Virtual River Game makes complex models clear to all stakeholders

Researcher Robert-Jan den Haan of the University of Twente developed the Virtual River Game, a physical game board to control models and the Tygron Geodesign platform. He describes this unique project below.

Within the RiverCare research program, co-funded by NWO and industrial partners including Tygron, we have been looking for ways to make models accessible to stakeholders in a serious game. The Virtual River game, the prototype we developed, uses the Tygron Geodesign Platform, but in a way that is not immediately obvious. The Virtual River game is based on a new concept: a physical game board to control both digital models and the Tygron platform. Calculated effects are projected back onto the game board itself and through graphs, diagrams and scores in the Tygron platform.

The Virtual River game with the physical game board with visualizations, the Tygron Geodesign Platform on a touch screen (picture: Deltares).

Models make it possible to evaluate the effects of measures. To manage our rivers, we use hydrodynamic models to predict water flow and water levels during extreme discharges. We use ecological models to predict the biodiversity of floodplain facilities and models to calculate the costs of interventions. During the research project on the Virtual River game we found out that especially hydrodynamic models were perceived as a black box by multiple stakeholders. Something went into the model and something came out of it, but what happens in between? How is such a model used to make decisions?

Modular game blocks

We looked for a way to make a hydrodynamic model accessible and transparent in the Virtual River game. As a concept idea we made a physical game board that represents a fictitious and abstract piece of the Dutch river. The game board is a spatial area divided into equal, hexagonal locations. Each location is filled by two modular type of game tiles: height and land use. There are low stones to form the main channel of the river. Slightly higher stones for together different land use areas such as agricultural use, natural grassland and forest form the floodplains. Even higher stones form the dikes.

The physical game board of the Virtual River game as a representation of a Dutch river segment.

Around the game board we have developed a game table and software that makes the physical game board digital. Through additional adjustments we make the digital board suitable for the Delft3D Flexible Mesh hydrodynamic model, the BIOSAFE biodiversity model and a self-developed cost model. The digital board will also be used to control the Tygron Platform. This way players see the game board as a virtual world on the platform. Where the land use is agricultural on the board, players see cows grazing in the virtual world. Where the land use is forest on the board, players see trees.

Virtual River game interface in the Tygron Geodesign platform

In the Virtual River game players jointly explore strategies to improve flood safety and ecological value of the river segment within a budget. In the game, players are assigned a role and goals that correspond with stakeholders in reality. Players try to achieve both the common goal and their own goals, but does it all go together? Players jointly design, implement and evaluate interventions such as creating secondary channels, moving dikes and adjusting floodplain vegetation by moving game pieces on the physical game board of the Virtual River game.

Transparent and accessible

By linking a physical game board to digital models, the effects of interventions are calculated live. Feedback of the model results is done by means of visualizations projected on the game board itself and in the Tygron Platform that players see on the touch screen positioned above the game board. Players can also use the touchscreen to switch visualizations on the board between height, flow rates (flow pattern), flow resistance of land use (hydraulic roughness) and ownership. This way of feedback allows players to see the effects of change at the place where they made the change. In combination with the physical game board that itself already has height, this makes the model results easier to interpret and transparent. Because players don’t need background knowledge of the models, but control them by simply moving game tiles, the models become accessible.

Different visualizations are projected on the game board (in this case: height).

Meanwhile, we have applied the Virtual River game in multiple sessions, with both professionals and relative laymen regarding river management. We see that the game, through the concept of a physical game board and digital information, especially enables professionals and lay people to work together effectively. The combination is easily accessible, invites experimentation and therefore provides insights into different measures and the models used. Through the information in the game and the knowledge that professionals bring to the table, lay people learn a lot about the complexity of the river system, about the models that are used, and about the roles of stakeholders. At the same time, professionals learn about how other players look at the problem and solutions. We also see that professionals learn specific lessons from the game by giving them a role in the game that is not corresponding to their role in reality. For example, we let a participant from Rijkswaterstaat play the role of nature manager. In short, the Virtual River game and the innovative approach of the physical game board as a user interface achieves the intended goal.

More applications possible

We started developing the game board link to models and the Tygron Geodesign platform within the Virtual River game context, but we have developed the link ourselves as a game platform. The same principle can be applied to other locations and application areas. The conversion of the physical game board to the digital game board and the link with the Tygron Geodesign Platform is ready and immediately applicable. In particular, we see potential to use the platform for games about other environmental systems and urban planning. And we will certainly explore that further.

For more information, mail Robert-Jan den Haan (, researcher at the University of Twente.

The Tygron Platform has already been used in such a project in which game board and software work together. In New York, this was used for city planning where stakeholders could slide around a physical game board with game blocks that corresponded to the parameters. The Tygron Platform calculated the new situations and provided immediate feedback.

More information:



Tygron joins the Esri Partner Network as Silver Partner

For the original version of the press release (in Dutch), see:

The Dutch Esri Partner Network is expanding with Tygron as Silver Partner. The collaboration between Tygron and Esri Nederland facilitates governments, engineers, planners and designers in straightforward cooperation and inproviding better solutions to complex spatial tasks.

The impact on space is an increasing concern. Residential construction, climate adaptation and the energy transition require space, while regulations impose great demands on the solutions. Complex tasks such as these require knowledge, the ability to experiment with solutions and to continuously outline the effects of the plans. The collaboration between Tygron and Esri Nederland provides for this.

Tygron & Esri Nederland
The valuable spatial information is managed by GIS departments in ArcGIS. Esri Nederland, as market leader in the field of geographic information systems, uses ArcGIS to ensurethat analysis and visualization features are available. The Tygron Geodesign Platform integrates extreme computing power with validated computing models. The Platform is widely used by governments, engineers and designers in the search for solutions for housing, quality of life, climate adaptation and the energy transition.

The collaborations added value
GIS information is often hard to get hold of for policy officers, designers and engineers working on solutions to the spatial issues.

Tygron and Esri Nederland provide an automated process, in which data can be used directly from ArcGIS in order to test plans integrally and compute them for themes such as housing, traffic, noise, particulates, energy, climate and the economy. As a result, scenarios can be calculated extremely quickly and powerfully, shortening turnaround times and saving costs.

From the Esri StartUp Program to Esri Partner

“All our clients are Esri users. By integrating ArcGIS with the Tygron Platform, our clients can work in their familiar GIS environment and directly build computing models in Tygron”, says Florian Witsenburg, CEO at Tygron. “Esri is a large international company, yet for us as a Dutch scale-up, highlyaccessible. We receive great support from Esri Nederland, first in the Esri Startup Program and currently as a partner. We are very proud to be an official Esri Partner as well.”

The right logical step for Tygron
“Tygron has been using basic maps in ArcGIS to build 3D worlds for some time now. This step towards the integration of our platforms is a new and logical step in the collaboration. We smoothly complement each other while using each other’s strengths: Tygron’s superfast computing power and models and the possibilities for visualization and analysis in ArcGIS,” says Jort Engels, partner manager at Esri Nederland.

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See some features that are based on Tygron and Esri technology below:


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Establish a live interaction of calculation results (overlays) between the Tygron Platform and ArcGIS Pro.
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Drag and Drop Geo: Import detailed 3D models, including textures, directly into the Tygron Platform.[/playne_column]

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Use available i3S data to build a new project on the Tygron Platform.[/playne_column]


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Import Sketch-up models
Easily import a Sketch-up model into your project, e.g. from a database such as 3D warehouse, using ArcGIS Pro or FME.
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Import CAD models
Easily Import CAD models which are exported as SLPK from ArcGIS.[/playne_column]

Tygron worldwide

The Tygron Geodesign Platform can be used worldwide as the ideal tool for stakeholder conversations and scenario planning. Thanks to open source data like OpenStreetMaps, areas anywhere in the world will be displayed properly in the Tygron Geodesign Platform. Additional data enriches the results even further.

The international project Ground Truth 2.0 stimulates sustainable citizen observatories for smart resources management. Using their own observations and mobile devices, citizens can provide a new data stream of local information about their environment, complementing existing systems and data sources. Tygron participates in several demo cases in Belgium and Sweden. The Tygron Platform shows the collected data in easy to understand but comprehensive 3D projects, that serve as a solid base for stakeholder conversations.

We would like to show you 3 recent projects with the Tygron Platform

Belgium – Mechelen

In the city of Mechelen in Belgium the Citizen Observatories focus on Air quality and noise pollution. The Tygron Platform uses OpenStreetMaps to show the selected area. By using the data that was collected by citizens over a period of several days we give everyone involved clear insight into the problem. This is the starting point for all stakeholders to investigate scenarios to improve air quality. The city has already taken steps and banned most of the cars from the city center.

Belgium – Antwerp 

This is a project to reduce heat stress in the district of Sint-Andries in Antwerp. The goal is to identify the cooler spots during hot days for the more vulnerable like the elderly and newborns. CO members collected data during the summer to map the heat stress sensitive areas. We loaded this data on the Tygron Platform and display both day and night temperatures. 

Sweden – Dunkern

We did two projects in the Dunkern area, thanks to active users in the eco village of Flen. They collected lots of data on water quality which we integrated in the project on the Tygron Platform. There is a large project, covering an area of 30 kilometers by 30 kilometers that includes the whole Dunkern area. There is also a smaller project of 10km by 10km that focuses of the eco village in Flen. Both serve as a base for stakeholder conversations and scenario planning sessions to improve the water quality in the area.  

Tygron Platform Water Module performs well in UKEA Benchmark – Test 2

The performance of the Tygron Platform’s Water Module has been assessed in a series of widely acknowledged UK EA benchmark tests. The results are very satisfying, as it performs well against other popular packages.

Here we highlight its performance in Test 2: Filling of Floodplain Depressions, which tests the package’s capability to predict inundation extent and final flood depth for low momentum flow over complex topographies. The time series from two of the in total sixteen measurement points are presented here as an example. More on this specific benchmarking case can be found at our wiki page.







Alliander and Tygron are reducing the consumption of natural gas

The Netherlands is engaged in an energy transition with the abandonment of the use of natural gas.

In order to accomplish this, energy supplier Alliander DGO has developed the AboutUs application in cooperation with Tygron. AboutUs is a tool that is simple in use, and will be made available to all residents in a town district. The app enables municipalities and other initiators to involve residents in each district, through a district process, in the decision-making about new and more sustainable energy supplies.

As residents can have an estimate made of the costs and effects of the various measures for their homes, they can decide for themselves what options are relevant to them. They can moreover encourage other residents to explore certain options by making their choices visible to other people in their neighbourhood.

The residents get feedback about how they can collectively reduce the consumption of natural gas.

Tygron Platform calculates with remarkable speed large areas in hyper resolution

Tygron recently conducted a simulation of a water model on 1 billion computing cells.

Here’s an illustration: on 1 billion cells, an area of 30 kilometres x 30 kilometres (or miles if you so prefer) can be subdivided into computing cells of 1 meter x 1 meter. The application of the widely used discretization techniques in water models, unstructured grids and subgrids is not required. We have a solid base to calculate regional water systems through the Tygron Geodesign Platform.

The Tygron Platform is an integrated instrument, suited to make water issues transparent in combination with other topics (energy, traffic, air quality etc.) in high resolution as well as at high speed.
Tygron serves a diverse group of users both in and outside the water industry. All of these users have one thing in common: the need for calculations at a high rate and a high resolution.

Why won’t this work with model codes of existing water models?

Numerical schemes of existing model codes have not been created for computing with GPUs. A Modflow, for example is therefore not likely to make faster groundwater calculations on GPUs. This is not specifically the case with Modflow, but with practically all the existing model codes used by the Dutch water industry.

Computing complete countries on 1m x 1m is within reach

Since 2017, 25 million computing cells have been available for each project built within the Tygron Platform. The target is to be able to handle this number forty times over by 2019: 1 billion.

If this process is continued, 90 billion cells are well within reach by 2020. This will allow an area of 300km x 300km, larger than a country like the Netherlands, to be subdivided into computing cells of 1m x 1m.

And: based on 90 billion cells, the entire world can then be subdivided into computing cells of approximately 125m x 125m…

Province of Utrecht uses the Tygron Platform for the Environmental Act


The province of Utrecht has developed specific instruments to help the Utrecht municipalities in enhancing their spatial planning. The most influential instrument of the past few years has been the ‘Water and the Environment in Spatial Planning Guide’. The key to this guide is the Environmental Quality Profiles (EQP) stating the province’s area-specific environmental and sustainability ambitions. These Environmental Quality Profiles comprise twenty environmental and sustainability aspects (called indicators), such as energy consumption, generation of sustainable energy, water safety, sound pollution, air quality and also access by public transport.

3D Model

For the application of the EQP, the use of a 3D model gives stakeholders a better understanding of the impact of the decisions taken than a 2D chart. Also reliable and detailed 3D information is required for a specific review of for example sound pollution, air quality and flooding in order to properly calculate these spatial issues.

Excellent combination

The versatile functionality of the Tygron Geodesign Platform makes an excellent combination with the EQP. In order to visualize and review initiatives in a 3D model, reviews against the applicable regulations (at present the zoning plan, in the future the environmental plan), and also for individual topics/indicators (in the future also called environmental values), the Platform is entirely geared to perform according to the Environmental Act.

Tygron presents colliding stars in Noordwijk

Colliding stars in Noordwijk

Colliding stars? Has the ESTEC center in Noordwijk observed something special in the universe or has a difference of opinion arisen among Dutch celebrities in the area?

None of this. Council members of Noordwijk have something else in mind when they talk about stars: the 2030 Noordwijk Environmental Vision.

Noordwijk is ahead of many municipalities as it has already set up a vision regarding the Environmental Act.

Seven stars have been defined in this vision representing Noordwijk. To find out how this vision can be applied in practice, council members, civil servants and a number of citizens/partners of the city participated in the workshop ‘Impact tests’.

These are the 7 stars:

  • Energetic society
  • Fabulous sports opportunities
  • Attractive and rustic village centres
  • Appealing surroundings
  • Opulent nature
  • Versatile economy and tourism
  • Excellent accessibility

Why an impact test?

In an impact test for the Environmental Act, topics from the Environmental vision or an Environmental plan are reviewed against real cases. The purpose is to test whether the intended vision effectively works as soon as the Environmental Act has taken effect. So this is actually some sort of simulation. There is no fixed format for an impact test; the vision may for example be tested in a role play or in a debate.

The city of Noordwijk asked Tygron to look after all the specific aspects and the effects of the impact-test workshop.

Real time

A real case was reviewed against seven stars in the ‘Impact-Test Workshop’.

Tygron distilled a review model from the Environmental Vision so as to review three scenarios for a re-development location in Noordwijk against four indicators/topics (must comply with the housing vision, noise levels, spatial quality and amount of traffic.

During the evening, the effect of a scenario on the indicators in respect of the original situation was calculated in real time. These indicators are related to one or several stars. Eventually, the score for 7 stars could be visualized in a clearly organized table.

One of the illustrative scenarios in the use case

Interactive discussion

With the Tygron Platform, participants were able to set up a clear and unambiguous picture of what happened during the execution of a certain scenario. The model has been built from key data (such as key administrations and the Actual Elevation Model for the Netherlands) and enhanced with the municipality’s own data (such as the traffic model for Noordwijk).

The 3D image made immediately clear to the participants what the urban development plan was going to look like and the impact such a plan may have on the environment. An interactive and vibrant discussion developed from this. And the participants felt like they had landed in 2021, the year when the Environmental Act takes effect, because an integrated consideration of the physical surroundings can be made based on digital instruments and centrally opened-up data.


Of course there was a plethora of different opinions and a lively discussion kicked off: about the mutual relationship among the stars, the testing method, the impact of a scenario on the stars, the use of digital tools and so on.

All in all a successful workshop!

Has this inspired you and would you like to know more about impact tests or the Tygron Geodesign Platform? Please contact us at