Published works

Published works

Using participatory mapping to harness local knowledge and increase community connectedness in bushfire preparation

TitleUsing participatory mapping to harness local knowledge and increase community connectedness in bushfire preparation
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHaworth, B, Whittaker, J, Bruce, E
Conference NameAFAC16
Date Published08/2016
PublisherBushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Conference LocationBrisbane

The increased ease of individuals to create, share and map geographic information combined with the need for timely, relevant and diverse information has resulted in a new disaster management context. Volunteered geographic information (VGI), or geographic information created by private citizens enabled through technologies like social media and web-based mapping, has changed the ways people create and use information for crisis events. Literature in this field has focused on disaster response while largely ignoring prevention and preparedness. Preparing for disasters reduces the likelihood of negative impacts on life and property, but despite strategies to educate communities, preparation remains low and increased preparation engagement is required. This study assesses the application and value of VGI in bushfire risk reduction. It examines VGI as a social practice and not simply a data source by considering the user experience of contributing VGI and the potential for these social activities to increase community connectedness for building disaster resilience. Participatory mapping workshops were held in four bushfire-risk communities in Tasmania. Workshops included a paper-mapping activity and web-based digital mapping. Survey results from 31 participants confirm the process of mapping and contributing local information for bushfire preparation with other community members can contribute to increased social connectedness, understanding of local bushfire risk, and engagement in risk reduction. The social aspect of VGI was engaging for participants and contributed to improved community connectedness. The social quality appeared even more engaging than the specific information shared, and this should be considered in future disaster risk reduction initiatives. Participants reported collaborative maps as effective for collating and sharing community bushfire information with a preference for digital mapping over paper-based methods. Local knowledge and shared information were seen as valuable, but further work is needed to extrapolate findings from the study sample to the broader population.

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