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NZfloodpics: engaging communities to support flood resilience

Water New Zealand Stormwater Conference, 2021, Tauranga

The adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words” conveys the general concept that complex and multifaceted ideas can be captured in a single image. Photographs (and video) are widely accepted as a media format that can communicate flood information better than verbal or written descriptions. Local Government New Zealand’s 2014 think piece “Managing natural hazard risk in New Zealand – towards more resilient communities” identified a single natural hazards information portal was critical to improve natural hazards management. Show more…As such, a central New Zealand flood photograph repository could greatly support our efforts to enhance flood risk reduction while improving readiness, response, and recovery for flood episodes. With those aims in mind, The NZFloodpics ( initiative was launched in 2017 to develop a crowd-sourced and georeferenced national flood photograph database for the benefit of all New Zealanders. NZFloodpics provides a conduit that links people nationwide who experience floods with a database that stores searchable flood photographs with spatiotemporal metadata. The value of a national flood photograph archive is well established; however, the value of the crowd-sourced, citizen science platform and GUI (graphical user interface) used to document contemporary floods is equally (and possibly more) valuable. The NZFloodpics GUI/website has an easy to share URL, which also facilitates rapid sharing over social media, mainstream media and across professional networks.
The NZFloodpics initiative is a non-commercial venture, providing a free flood information resource for flood hazard and flood risk management. It has been used so far by multiple agencies to support flood response work and for the collection of data that underpins flood reduction and readiness programs. NZFloodpics has also helped facilitate the exchange of flood information between communities, organisations, agencies and interested parties. 2021 Stormwater Conference & Expo Our paper will cover the origins and motivations for NZFloodpics, highlighting the value of a crowd-sourced, community-centric contribution toward a national flood photograph portal. Examples of community and industry knowledge capture will be demonstrated for the Bay of Plenty, Northland, Auckland, and Nelson regions. A wider context for how NZFloodpics will be expanded and institutionalized within the NIWA-led “Flood Resilient Aotearoa” MBIE Endeavour research program will be provided. Our presentation will also cover some details about how NZFloodpics will be harnessed in parallel with historical and satellite-based imagery to create nationally consistent flood maps. NZFloodpics photographs are (and will continue to be) freely downloadable, so we will offer initial ideas about future database and GUI applications as public and industry participation increases
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Categories: Climate + Hazard Resilience
Tags: 2021
Author: & Dowson Lisa, Clayton E, Foster Liam, Goodier C, Kay T, Lorrey A, Rix Jon, Smith Hamish