A citizen science approach using information systems to provide qualitative information on historic natural disasters to risk communicators and the general public
This paper presents the concept of an ICT tool for collecting existing knowledge in the population on historic natural disasters, and an organizational concept for making this knowledge and experience usable for risk and crisis communication, and discussions with relevant decision makers including politicians. A key focus of the proposed solution is the systematic collection of qualitative information on past natural disasters using a citizen science approach: what did previous disasters actually mean for the everyday lives of the citizens, what was the concrete damage caused by the disaster and what did this damage look like, how did the disasters impact people's safety, their wellbeing, and their economic activities, what type of help was needed (and missing) when the disaster struck, where was it needed, how could people have better prepared themselves, how did the affected population cope with the disaster, what were successful (or unsuccessful) coping strategies. In order to achieve these goals, the proposed software will be able to enrich existing quantitative information on disasters with qualitative experiences in the form of live cases narrated by survivors, and historic (multi) media documentations such as texts, photographs and films on disasters. In order to make this information usable, relevant meta data will be acquired and provided for each contribution, and the information will be archived in an easy to use data base, that allows for an intuitive (visual) presentation of its inputs. In order to assure that a critical amount of input is generated and used), an organizational concept involving educational institutions like schools, and universities, as well as volunteer organizations is proposed. The expected advantage of the proposed approach is that it will become clearer to all stake holders what a disaster actually means for the everyday lives of the population. Instead of just relying on disaster statistics, the impact of a potential disaster becomes audible and visible. Multimedia materials from the system can be used to create exhibitions on the local relevance of disasters, which can be used to communicate existing risks to (younger) citizens, as well as politicians and other decision makers.