Citizen science app takes Massey PhD students to Seattle   

RAPID workshop with text

The University of Washington (UW) funded two Massey University PhD students to attend a workshop in Seattle to discuss the development of a citizen disaster science app.

The workshop, held on 23 August, focused on how to develop a new app for the RAPID Facility, the Post-Disaster, Rapid Response Research facility based at UW.

The aim of the RAPID app is to support citizen disaster science so data can be rapidly collected after a disaster as some of this crucial data can be lost as time passes.

The overall goal of the workshop was to lay out a clearer path to improving post-disaster citizen science rapid response, along with science goals, that all align with the RAPID facility.

Student’s Marion Tan, researching on disaster mobile apps, and Lisa McLaren, researching on citizen science, are both completing their PhD’s at Massey’s Joint Centre for Disaster Research.

Miss Tan says, “I was thrilled to have the opportunity to travel to Seattle to meet with the RAPID researchers.

“I particularly enjoyed discussing the user-interface of the RAPID prototype app for disaster rapid response research and it affirmed many of the usability principles I have been working on for disaster apps.”

The Joint Centre Director Professor David Johnston also attended the workshop, along with key staff from UW including the RAPID facility Director Joe Wartman, Lead Software Developer Troy Tanner, and Professor Ann Bostrom from the Evans School of Public Policy who leads the social science data collection.

The group also looked at the citizen science approach of the 18-year old successful program COASTT and how this may translate to citizen disaster science.

COASST, The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, is run out of UW and engages coastal residents to conduct surveys on beaches within their communities.

Taking the concepts of citizen science from COASST and the rapid response software development from RAPID, the group brainstormed on how an app can fit the purpose of the citizen science aspect of the Facility.

The RAPID Facility is funded by the National Science Foundation – a United States government agency that supports research in the science and engineering fields.

It provides tools for collecting and assessing perishable post-disaster data, with initiatives around disaster focused citizen science along with other technological developments.

The workshop marked the start of an ongoing collaboration between Massey University and RAPID Facility.

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