Citizen science facilitates resilience building by enhancing citizens’ understanding of hazards and risk, whilst also building trust and communication links between citizens, scientists and authorities. The BGS is working alongside the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) of St Vincent and the Grenadines and the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Centre, based in Trinidad and Tobago, to develop a citizen science app and decision-support system for collecting and sharing observations of natural hazards and their impacts in near-real time.
The myHAZ app
The system, called myHAZ, includes:
- a smartphone app primarily designed for reporting natural hazard observations and for gaining a ‘quick glance’ at the status of hazards on the islands
- an observation management system for use by authorities and scientists to manage and respond to incoming observations
- a public web portal for viewing and downloading data gathered by the app and for more complex data visualisation
Developing the app
A series of workshops have been held at NEMO as part of the co-design and co-development process to ensure that the system is fit-for-purpose. At the October 2018 workshop, we used a prototype of the app to collect data on landslides and a flood when heavy rain affected island life. During a subsequent visit in September 2019, we visited numerous communities on St Vincent to further test the app and gather feedback from potential users. myHAZ is expected to be launched in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2020.
Whilst the initial system is being developed with BGS ODA funds for use in St Vincent and the Grenadines (by incorporating local data and being managed locally), it will be possible to ‘customise’ subsequent versions for use in any other country or setting.
myHAZ will allow people in the community to report on things […] and that would help NEMO respond and help scientists to understand how these hazards operate.
Dr Richard Robertson, Seismic Research Centre at UWI.