UNESCO/IHE - Citizens as water sensors: WeSenseIt

UNESCO/IHE - Citizens as water sensors: WeSenseIt

Given the large diffusion of mobile phones, citizens can complement the often insufficient density and resolution of data collected by traditional monitoring networks. This is particularly helpful for emergency services as well as policy makers with respect to critical events such as floods and droughts. Moreover, the involvement of citizens in data collection promotes a more active role for local communities with regards to understanding and taking care of the environment. UNESCO-IHE and 13 partners from six European countries are developing new ways to capture data about the water cycle by actively involving citizens. These citizen observatories of water allow citizens and communities to become active participants in data capturing, information evaluation and decision making processes.

Citizens capture hydrological data using Apps and physical sensors that can connect to portable devices such as smartphones and tablets. Relevant data is also extracted from the interactions of citizens on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. UNESCO-IHE is developing innovative methods to optimally design new generations of monitoring networks that include sets of dynamic sensors capturing data with diverse spatial and temporal characteristics (e.g. via smartphone video-based rainfall reports), and methods to incorporate the heterogeneous data collected via the citizen observatories into hydrological and hydraulic models. Also, through an innovative combination of governance analyses and stakeholder engagement, UNESCO-IHE is aiming to maximise the social innovation potential of citizen observatories in terms of improved community resilience and strengthened water governance.

Locations: Italy, United Kingdom, Netherlands
Contact: Leonardo Alfonso (l.alfonso@unesco-ihe.org)

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