Using citizen data to understand earthquake impacts: Aotearoa New Zealand’s earthquake Felt Reports

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Massey University
© The Author(s) 2021. CC BY-NC 3.0
Aotearoa New Zealand's national seismic network, GeoNet, administers Felt Reports, including the Felt RAPID and Felt Detailed databases, which are being collected at present. NZ has a long tradition of using earthquake Felt Reports provided by the public to analyse the damage caused by moderate to large earthquakes. From traditional paper-based Felt Reports to current online reports (using the GeoNet website or a mobile app), researchers have been using such data to obtain a geographical distribution of the damage caused by an earthquake and to assess what actions people take during shaking. Felt Reports include questions on people's reactions, indoor and outdoor effects of earthquake shaking, building damage, and tsunami evacuation. The database of long online Felt Reports (Felt Classic between 2004 and 2016 and Felt Detailed from 2016 to the present) comprises over 930,000 reports from more than 30,000 earthquakes. Current research being carried out using this data includes: 1) updating of the NZ Ground Motion to Intensity Conversion Equation and Intensity Prediction Equation, 2) understanding human behaviour for earthquakes and related hazards such as tsunami, 3) developing a predictive model of human behaviour in earthquakes to estimate injuries and fatalities, and 4) improving public education. This paper summarises the history of NZ earthquake Felt Reports as well as the research currently being carried out using this data. Finally, we discuss how citizen science helps in the understanding of earthquake impacts and contributes to the aim of improving Aotearoa New Zealand's resilience to future events.
New Zealand, Felt Reports, citizen science, macroseismic intensity
Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 2021, 25 (3), pp. 61 - 78