Smart Phone Flood Mapping Takes Next Steps

Second Year of Crowdsourcing Flooding Data

Second Year of Crowdsourcing Flooding Data

SNAPSHOT: In 2017, Wetlands Watch and its partners held a regional event to crowdsource flooding information, using the highest projected tide of the year (the so-called King Tide) as day of the event. We did it again in 2018 with new partners and an expanded focus. Now we are running the mapping year around, with neighborhood teams being organized across Southeast Virginia.

BACKSTORY: In 2014 we developed a smart phone app that allowed people to map where it flooded in their community allowing them to take an active role in adaptation and flooding solutions. The app, “Sea Level Rise,” caught the attention of the environmental reporter for the Virginian Pilot, Dave Mayfield, who convinced his editors to sponsor a regional crowdsourcing event to collect flooding data around the “King Tide,” the highest of the fall perigean tides. The event was a success with over 700 mappers out mapping at the same time! So many in fact that we have applied for a Guinness World Record designation.

So we did it again in 2018, this time with new partners at WHRO, the regional NPR affiliate. They developed lesson plans that meet state standards and received a grant to enroll over 120 high school classes in a year-long mapping effort. The 2017 effort brought out over 400 mappers, many of whom wanted to continue to map outside of the King Tide event.

This is music to the ears of Dr. Derek Loftis, a researcher at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science who is using this mapping data to perfect his flooding models. He has been the primary user of the flooding data collected by these events but needs data collected at different times and in different areas.

So now we are looking for funding to keep the work going year around, with mapping teams being organized across Hampton Roads.