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GCN : January and February 2017
crowdsourcing to get the knowledge to people who need it?’” The organization partnered with Concursive to create the Sea Level Rise app. Anyone can view its results, but only those who have gone through a 10-minute training program are au- thorized to add data to the map. Users go out during a flooding event and walk around the edge of the water. Every five steps, they use the app to drop GIS pins. The data they collect is exported as an Excel file so it can be turned into a shapefile and overlaid on an emergency man- agement grid. Researchers like Loftis can then get data from Wetlands Watch to reduce the margin of error on their predic- tion models, Stiles said, who is hop- ing to trim the margin of error down to 10 feet. Such refined data helps emergency crews know precisely where to go and has practical applications for areas like Hampton Roads that have school flood days instead of snow days. “My phone might buzz and say, ‘High Water Advisory for the city from 12 to 4,’ and I don’t know when or where exactly,” Stiles said. “With this app, you can get enough data” so that at 8 a.m. parents will know if after- school activities might be cancelled because of flooding. Although the app is currently free, Stiles and his team have created a business model to make it self-sus- taining. “Eventually, we want to give people franchise areas in which they can map, for example, the city of Vir- ginia Beach,” he said. “The back-end data support would be done by Con- cursive, and the city of Virginia Beach would pay a few bucks and then they could have all the data. Collect a few pennies from a lot of people and it be- comes self-supporting.” Stiles is also looking into the idea of selling the data to insurance com- panies. “Do you know how many cars we lose due to flooding?” he asked. “If an insurance company paid the cost of just one SUV, we could sustain the Sea Level Rise project for a year.” • APIMAGES GCN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 • GCN.COM 27 When private drone operators took to the skies to film the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, researchers in Norfolk, Va., saw a free way to enhance their flood prediction tool. 0217gcn_026-027.indd 27 1/31/17 1:45 PM
October and November 2016