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Participatory technology

Participation and technology in citizen science for strengthening resilience to natural hazards

Project Period: Now - June 2019

Project Funders: National Science Challenge: Resilient to Nature's Challenges, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (New Zealand)

Organisations: Auckland University of Technology, University of Auckland and Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group

Project Location: Hawke's Bay


This research project aims to assess the role and contribution of technology in fostering community participation to plan for natural hazards in Hawke’s Bay. Participants will trial three forms of technology including drones, video games and Lego modelling.  These technologies will be used to map the community, locating its vulnerabilities and also resources that could be useful in an emergency. It is envisaged that the use of these three tools will encourage a broader cross sector of the community to be involved in this process. For example:

  • Lego modelling will be used to engage children in the community resilience planning process. They will build a map of their community using Lego pieces and will plot information relating to natural hazards, vulnerability and capacities. This will enable children to produce, share, and reflect upon their knowledge of their environment.
  • Video games will be used by children, youth and young adults. The Minecraft video game will provide a platform for users to recreate specific areas of their community and eventually collect, plot and analyse spatial data as well as simulate scenarios of disaster risk and resilience within the game environment.
  • Drones and associated aerial photographs will be used by all members of the community to collect, plot and analyse information relevant to disaster risk, i.e. hazards, vulnerability and capacities.

This research is being timed to coincide with a community project being planned with the local Civil Defence team. This project is termed community resilience planning which is a process to engage with the wider community to identify local risks from natural hazards and ideas to reduce these risks.  The process also identifies resources the community has to assist them in an emergency and what would be important to them in the recovery phase of an emergency.

The project will involve a series of workshops and a number of focus groups to assess, together with the local community, the effectiveness of these three forms of technology and evaluate whether or not they increase communities’ participation in the community resilience planning process.