smart phone app

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.

Fall Storms Bring Flooding to SE Virginia

The impact of four feet of flooding on Hampton Boulevard, the major N/S road in west Norfolk. This is one of two roads leading Naval Station Norfok.

Jose and Maria are messing with Southeast Virginia. The video above is Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk, VA during the run up to the high tides on September 19, 2017, from Jose. On Sept 26 and 27 another set of high tides is hitting. At least these "modest" floods help us find all the areas that flood so we can put them on the map.

We are also in the midst of a major regional, crowdsource flood mapping effort around the hugest projected tide on November 5, 2017, the so-called "King Tide" of the year. We've been holding mapping trainings leading up to that event.

During the Jose floods I was out in the water doing some mapping. The images below show a flooded residential neighborhood in Norfolk (left) and the flood mapping I did (right) using the Sea Level Rise phone app. Walking the edge of the flooded zone, I dropped GIS pins every 4-5 feet and got an outline of the flooding., showing the extent of the inundation. The data set can be exported as an .xls or .csv file and transformed into a shape form on a map and used to test inundation models. All of this helps us project where the water will come next time we get +4' of water.