Citizen science as a catalyst for community resilience building: A two-phase tsunami case study

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Massey University
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The role of citizen science in natural hazard risk awareness, assessment, mitigation, and preparedness is being recognised as an important element of disaster risk reduction. Citizen science has potential as a collaborative resilience building activity that can help build the capacity of, and relationships between, individuals, communities, and institutions to prepare and respond to disaster. Specifically, citizen science can increase resilience by building the collective and self-efficacy of individuals, organisations, and communities as well as other factors such as enhancing planning, coping mechanisms, social capital, community participation, leadership, empowerment, trust, and a sense of community. We present a case study of a two-phased citizen science initiative related to tsunami preparedness and response, undertaken between 2015 and 2016 in Orewa, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. The activities of the first phase acted as a catalyst for the second phase and thus contributed directly to resilience building. Phase One was a citizen-initiated, co-developed survey on tsunami preparedness and intended response. The results from the survey, showing that participants had a low understanding of appropriate response to a potential tsunami threat, were used by community leaders to develop a community preparedness and awareness-building exercise: Phase Two. Phase Two was a joint citizen and agency-facilitated tsunami evacuation exercise “Ahead of the Wave”, with science-led data collection on evacuation numbers and timing. This initiative was aimed at improving the response capacity of a coastal community at risk of tsunami and was initiated by the community itself with support from other agencies. We present an overview of the methodological approaches taken to understand community resilience to tsunami risk in Orewa. Further, we highlight the importance that researchers working in the citizen science space must recognise the time required to invest in co-production and the importance of understanding the different motivations of organisations and individuals.
© The Author(s) 2020.
Doyle EEH, Lambie E, Orchiston C, Becker JS, McLaren L, Johnston D, Leonard G. (2020). Citizen science as a catalyst for community resilience building: A two-phase tsunami case study. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies. 24. 1. (pp. 23-49).