FLOCAST: Flooding Observations – Citizens As Scientists using Technology Project

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Monday, 3 February 2014: 11:45 AM
Room C107 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Brandon R. Smith, CIMMS/Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and J. J. Gourley, Z. Flamig, C. Lutoff, and L. R. Lagadec

The Flood Observations - Citizens As Scientists using Technology Project (FLOCAST) was launched in 2013 in order to collect citizen observations of flooding across the United States. The primary goal of the FLOCAST project is to collect detailed reports on flash flooding in order to help improve flash-flood predictions tools, and specificity to help improve flash flood warnings in the US, thus saving lives and protecting infrastructure. The FLOCAST team is comprised of researchers and students who use an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to achieve the goal. FLOCAST observations are comprised of three complementary data collection strategies. The first strategy is that of using crowdsourcing to receive flash flooding reports. An app developed for the meteorological Phenomena Indication Near the Ground project, or mPING, collects basic information from citizen scientists about flash flooding by utilizing 4 levels of severity. These crowd sourced reports allow the possibility of capturing a high-resolution spatial representation of a flash flooding event. The second strategy of FLOCAST is that of using expert witnesses to gather highly detailed reports of flash flooding. These expert witnesses include trained individuals such as emergency managers, first responders, National Weather Service employees, and spotters. They are contacted immediately after a flash flooding event and asked to fill out a short questionnaire regarding the recent flash flooding events they experienced. The third strategy for the FLOCAST project is that of conducting victim interviews to better understand the societal perceptions, behavior, and response during flash-flood events. This three tiered system of information collection strategies will help us improve the design, utility, and communication of information about impending flash floods to reduce loss of life.