NET: New technologies and participatory approaches for disaster resilience

NET sees the collaboration of Dr Irene Manzella (PI) of the University of Plymouth with experts from several institutions such as the Middle East Technical University (METU), the University of Strathclyde, the University of Liverpool, the University of Edinburgh, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the City University of London, the Ozyegin University TED University and Ms Zara Abbey (SnooCODE, Ghana). Professor Iain Stewart acts as a mentor.

NET is funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering with the Frontiers of Development Seed funding Programme under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Risk communication and citizen engagement is central to management and mitigation of natural hazards and to strengthen community resilience to disasters. Unfortunately, these aspects are often underrated by scientists, who are usually not trained to interact and communicate science to stakeholders and the general public. The development of new techniques such as digital cartography, virtual and augmented reality and big data analysis opens a large number of possibilities for improving the effectiveness of risk communication and promoting a participatory approach to disaster resilience.

With the present project, a multidisciplinary and diverse team will work closely to develop the concept and trial application of citizen-science in relation to disasters by collecting data through social media and other communication channels. Data obtained will be processed in terms of monitoring of changes and damage and vulnerability assessments in a pilot study area. The citizen-science approach consists of engaging communities in actively taking part in those assessments through reporting and learning from the results. The information provided is then used to direct the pre- and post-disaster interventions for vulnerable people and areas.

Hazard simulations, digital field and citizen science datasets will be incorporated through gaming software to create dynamic visualisations of risk scenarios and post disaster assessment.

The city of Elazığ in eastern Turkey has been selected to carry out the present pilot study because of its high level of vulnerability and risk. The city has a dense- low income population and it is heavily affected by multiple hazards such as landslides, rockfalls, earthquakes and floods, such as the recent 6.8 Mw earthquake (24 January 2020) which caused several fatalities and much damage.

The innovative, multidisciplinary and participatory approach of the present project will help citizens and stakeholders to monitor site evolution, raise awareness, increase resilience to multiple hazards and ultimately build a sustainable future.