JPD 1.1 Understanding, Attributing, and Adapting to Extreme Rain Events in New Orleans: An ISeeChange Case Study of Information and Communication Needs during the 2017 Flood Season

Monday, 7 January 2019: 12:00 AM
North 221C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Julia Kumari Drapkin, ISeeChange, New Orleans, LA

ISeeChange mobilizes communities to share micro climate data about flooding and empowers collaboration between residents, hydrologists, and engineers to improve modeling, infrastructure design, and emergency preparedness.

In 2017, ISeeChange began refining our community-sourced flood monitoring during what proved to be a record breaking spring and summer rain season in New Orleans. Several flooding events occurred during average afternoon rain storms that resulted in widespread damage to cars, local businesses, and homes. Several public officials were fired in the wake of the storms, while public distrust in the state of municipal infrastructure persists.

Traditional top down approaches to monitor, manage, and communicate climate change around these events will be compared to the bottom-up community-sourced data and communication strategies used by ISeeChange during the flood season in New Orleans:

  • ISeeChange data was able to account for important block-by-block variations in storm intensity and impact, while including the residents’ lived experiences: both are needed to evaluate storm water management solutions for viability and cost effectiveness.
  • In addition to missing crucial context, top-down data gathering and communication misses two-way engagement opportunities that foster public trust. ISeeChange experimented with new ways to approach civic dialogue and engagement between residents and city officials around flooding and climate change.

ISeeChange is now scaling these methods in a citywide effort with the New Orleans Department of Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness, as well as directly partnering with engineering firms to bring community-sourced flooding data and experiences into the storm water management and infrastructure design process.

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