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Launch of the 'Waterproofing Data' project

Launch of the 'Waterproofing Data' project

From 7 to 9 November 2018 the city of São Paulo in Brazil has seen the launch of the projectWaterproofing Data: Engaging Stakeholders in Sustainable Flood Risk Governance for Urban Resilience.

Waterproofing Data is an interdisciplinary project with around €1m funding provided by an international association of research councils: ESRC (Economic and Social Sciences Research Council), FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation) and BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) in collaboration with the Belmont Forum, Norface and the International Science Council within the Transformations to Sustainability programme. Professor João Porto de Albuquerque from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies is the Principal Investigator of an international consortium which includes Heidelberg University (Prof Alexander Zipf) and Fundacao Getulio Vargas (Prof Maria Alexandra Cunha), alongside cooperation partners in Brazil (National Disaster Monitoring and Early-Warning Centre/Cemaden, Sao Paulo City Hall, State Secretary for the Environment of Acre, Brazil Geological Survey), Germany (Rhein-Neckar Water Rights Office and Eberbach City Council) and the UK (British Geological Survey, Environment Agency).

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Waterproofing Data tackles the challenge of improving the resilience of communities and cities to floods. This is accomplished by investigating the governance of water-related risks, with a focus on social and cultural aspects of data practices. By rethinking how flood-related data is produced and how it flows, Waterproofing Data will enable transformations to build sustainable, resilient communities.

Two case studies, in the cities of São Paulo and Rio Branco in Brazil, will be instrumental for developing interdisciplinary research methods in response to three main research questions:

1. How to make visible the way citizens, local government authorities, and other agencies involved in the management of water-related risks engage with data on flooding?

2. How to engage citizens to produce, circulate and embed data, which incorporates and builds upon pre-existing flood memories and local knowledge of flood risk, to increase community resilience?

3. How to integrate citizen-generated data with other data sources, such as environmental sensors, socio-demographics and risk mapping, in ways that support decision-making and policy-making on flooding?

The launch of the project consisted of a project workshop with investigators from the different institutions and countries involved, as well as site visits and an open launch event with more than 50 stakeholders from organisations in academic, governmental, private sector and non-governmental sectors. This open event is part of the transdisciplinary co-production approach of the project, which includes dialogue with stakeholders during all phases of the research process, including co-design, co-development and co-evaluation.

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This was the first official event of the Waterproofing Data, which will run from November 2018 until October 2021: stay tuned!