About the Project

About the project

Understanding how citizen science is applied to disaster risk reduction (DRR) now, and the lessons for its application in the future.

Potential pathways for effective citizen science when applied to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

  • Improving monitoring, forecasting and warning mechanisms for diverse & multiple hazards;
  • Enhancing dialogue and communication around hazardous phenomena;
  • Improving uptake of resilience measures (preparedness, action and prevention of loss).

What does the project involve?

We are working together to create an evidence base for what works now, and what might be most effective in the future.

This draws on the published literature (literature review), our discussions during two workshops (reflection) and new findings from (field work) three field regions   We want to think as widely possible across a family of techniques – some of which may not be conventionally labelled ‘citizen science’.  Tools like ‘narratives’ (social or historical) can  contribute to scientific understanding or DRR but are not conventional ‘data’. Participatory activities may  have a primary goal of citizen empowerment rather than the gathering of data. Does that matter ?

Using our initial analysis we have set up a trial project to test some of our findings in St. Vincent in collaboration with the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (SRC)  and the National Management Emergency Organisation (NEMO).

What are the outputs from this project ?

(1) This website is one of our key outputs. This contains a synthesis from the literature review and some of our reflections as we analyse findings from the workshops, our field work and the trial project.

(2) We will also write a final paper and report, due in 2018.

(3) We are also creating a legacy output in each of our study areas: (a) a reflection on the work of the vigias in Ecuador, written with and by the vigias; (b) the trial project monitoring rainfall in St. Vincent and (c) and an infographic about the benefits of citizen science in Nepal.

At our first workshop  we came up with this definition for how the project is going to think about citizen science in the context of DRR.

Citizen science places citizens at the centre of a process that generates new knowledge for disaster risk reduction 

These are the key principles we came up with for successful  ‘DRR’ citizen science. Are we missing anything important to you? Let us know.

  1. Active benefits for all participants
  2. Clear attempts to ensure legacy and longevity
  3. Responsible engagement in both quiet times and during active hazard moments
  4. Framed around disaster risk reduction goals
  5. Careful definition of partners (to ensure equitable outcomes)
  6. Equitable and empowering

Please see for comparison the European Citizen Science Association’s ‘Ten Principles for Citizen Science’ https://ecsa.citizen-science.net/documents


Project leaders, institutions and collaborators

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Jenni Barclay

Jenni Barclay (Principle Investigator for the project). Jenni is a Professor of Volcanology at the University of East Anglia. She has a particular interest in interdisciplinary approaches to volcanology that can be applied to volcanic disaster risk reduction. She has more than 20 years experience of working in developing country contexts.

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Muki Haklay

Prof. Muki Haklay is an expert in citizen science and public access and use of environmental information. He is a co-director of the ‘extreme citizen science’ (ExCiteS) group, using citizen science as a vehicle for opening up access to environmental information and scientific methods through participatory methodologies. He has received funding on this topic from the EPSRC, an ERC Advanced Grant, EU Horizon 2020 and ESRC. He is a co-investigator in Challenging Risk, a multi-disciplinary project that focuses on citizen science use in multi-hazard preparedness.

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Anna Hicks

Anna is expert in the integration of social and physical science research methodologies and their application in the design of community-based disaster risk reduction strategies. She has this central role in the ‘Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas (STREVA) project. Anna has worked across disciplines for nearly 10 years and has expertise in science communication from both the academic and private sector.

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Teresa Armijos

Teresa is a social scientist who has been working as a post-doctoral researcher for the STREVA project since 2013. She has driven and coordinated research on social vulnerability to ash and other volcanic hazards and conducted interdisciplinary analysis for STREVA, through which she has developed strong relationships with communities and other local stakeholders.

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Jason Chilvers

Jason is an environmental social scientist and a leading international expert in public engagement with science and the environment. He has pioneered the development of more critical and reflective approaches to participation through leading research funded by ESRC, EPSRC, EU FP7 and UK Government, including his Directorship of the ESRC Critical Public Engagement series which culminated in the 2016 book ‘Remaking Participation’.

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Stephen Dorling

Steve is a Chartered Meteorologist with a particular interest in how weather and climate interfaces with environmental problems. He is the Innovations Director at Weatherquest Ltd and has particular interest in severe thunderstorm and wind forecasting and the public reporting of weather phenomena relating to agriculture.

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Giles Foden

Giles is a professor of creative writing with interests in writing about science and the environment, drawing on his experience in Africa and elsewhere. He has acted as writer for two EC-funded FP7 projects: Global System Dynamics, and Global Systems Dynamics and Policies. Giles was an advisor on an EPSRC Dream Fellowship; providing training in narrative and input to articles on citizen science. He received the Whitbread Award for Fiction for ‘The Last King of Scotland’.

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Wendy McMahon

Wendy is a senior lecturer in American studies with a particular interest in Caribbean and Latin American culture, and discourse around human rights, belonging and home. She has strong expertise in critical theory.

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Tamsin Mather

Tamsin is an expert on planetary-scale processes and is co-Director of the NERC Centre for Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics (COMET). She brings her expertise in remote photogrammetry and machine learning to this project.

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Katie Oven

Katie has expertise in Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR), environmental risks and governance in Nepal which has developed as part of the NERC/ESRC Earthquakes Without Frontiers project, and more recently in undertaking reviews of national level CBDRR policy for the Department for International Development in Nepal.

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Jeremy Phillips

Jerry has broad interests in modelling hazardous surface flows
including lahars (volcanic mudflows; STREVA and CREDIBLE projects) and landslides (EUFP7 GEOGRAF). With Barclay he leads initiatives in STREVA to engage communities with hazards through mapping with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and currently uses statistical methods to produce digital elevation models that combine coarse-resolution global mapping with higher-resolution UAV-derived mapping, an example framework where citizen science can feed directly into hazard modelling.

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David Pyle

David is an internationally leading researcher in volcanology and its impact on the environment. Of particular relevance to this proposal are his expertise in using historical records to reconstruct past hazardous impacts, his experiences from working in Africa (RIFTVOLC) and South America, and his interest in public engagement (OxfordSparks) and crowdsourcing. David will link our project with ongoing citizen science initiatives including conscicom.org and Zooniverse.

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Nick Rosser

Nick is an internationally renowned expert in landsliding. He will bring his expertise in the development of novel methodologies to monitor and model these landslides in developing mountainous countries and experience in understanding local and global impacts of these processes. He has experience of working on these problems in hazards across the S. Asian Himalaya.

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Peter Simmons

Peter has expertise in social dimensions of risk in the context of both natural and technological hazards and his work has been funded by Research Councils UK and EUFP7. He has particular interests in citizen experience and understanding of risk, citizen participation in hazard monitoring and risk management, and interdisciplinary methodologies and techniques.