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Tuesday 09 Dec 2014Potential of citizen science data and methods for flood risk modelling

Barry Evans - Aberystwyth University

Harrison 103 13:00-14:00

Abstract: Due to the effects of climate change, extreme weather events now appear to be occurring more frequently and with greater severity; this coupled with urban development and infrastructure encroaching more onto floodplains has led to increases in our flood risk exposure. Even though the risk of flooding is now ever more apparent, the collection of real world data to support and manage flood risk remains relatively poor due to the logistics and costs involved in capturing and processing information available.

Research has already shown that citizen science has the potential of filling gaps in our knowledge where other means are not feasible, can aid in performing complex analytical tasks and potentially provide cost effective solutions. With more and more people now owning smartphone devices, there is now a large, highly mobile, data capturing and analytical resource to hand that has the ability to obtain and analyse detailed information about our natural environment, which would prove difficult and/or expensive to obtain via other means.

The Citizen Observatory Web (COBWEB) project is developing tools and methods to use a highly mobile and motivated citizen resource to capture information about flood risks to local communities. These tools and methods include a smartphone application purposefully designed to allow citizens to capture geo-tagged, time-stamped data in relation to flood events whilst utilising the smartphones sensor capabilities to capture additional information (metadata) to support the processing and quality assessment of this information. In addition to the smartphone application, a quality control framework is also being developed for the processing/assessment of the data being captured via conflation against authoritative datasets such as outputs from pre-existing flood models and in-situ sensors. This approach allows a level of confidence to be inferred on citizen derived flood data.

There are numerous research objectives within the context of flooding in COBWEB but the overarching objective is to show the potential citizen science and new and novel methodologies to improve our overall understanding of flood risks within a region.

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