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Disasters, Resilience and Urban Data (IM928)


This intensive module is aimed at introducing the topics of disaster risks and urban resilience with emphasis on the use of innovative digital technologies to gather and analyse urban data for improving disaster resilience. It approaches, theoretically and practically, the main issues involved in disaster resilience and the way in which social media, mobile technologies and the web 2.0 are related to our collective experience of disasters and crisis events. By means of a practical project and fieldwork conducted in the city of Coventry, students will learn how to collect urban data using open-source mobile data collection software (OpenDataKit), process and analyse this data with Geographic Information Systems (QGIS) and produce interactive digital maps to visualise urban aspects related to disaster resilience.

  • The module will consist of 5 days sessions.
  • 500 word blog and oral presentation
  • Group presentation
  • Written report
Learning Outcomes

The module aims to encourage students to be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of main concepts on the interdisciplinary research on disaster risks, natural hazards and urban resilience;
  • understand the relationship of disaster management, disaster risk reduction, urban resilience and new urban agendas for sustainable development;
  • explain the role of urban data in strategies for disaster risk reduction and urban resilience;
  • understand how urban data for disaster resilience is traditionally collected and identify the emerging urban data sources based on crowdsourced geographic infotmation;
  • critically appreciate the potential of participatory digital technologies and crowdsourced geographic information to gather and process data;
  • reflect on how social media, mobile technologies and the web 2.0 are related to changes in the collective experience of disasters and crisis events;
  • reflect on the potentials and limitations of digital geospatial technologies to capture urban data related to urban resilience;
  • use open-source geotechnologies (OpenDataKit, FieldPapers) to do mobile urban data collection in the field;
  • use Geographic Information System software (QGIS, JOSM) to analyse the urban data collected and produce interactive digital maps that visualise urban resilience issues;
  • work in interdisciplinary teams to analyse an urban challenge related to disaster resilience, design strategies for using open source geotechnologies to collect, process and analyse urban data.
Illustrative syllabus

Introduction to the course and distribution of topics for the student-led seminar presentations (1 hour seminar).

Day 1

1.Introduction to the week and lecture: “Disasters, Resilience and Urban Data” (2 hours): what is the connection between disasters, natural hazards, urban resilience and urban data. Different disciplinary perspectives on the field of disaster management, urban resilience, risk reduction: social sciences, environmental sciences, computational sciences.

2. Seminars with student-led presentations about the following topics (4 hours; each one 40 minutes):

• Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development Goals

• Urban Resilience and the New Urban Agenda

• Disaster Risk Management and GIS

• Volunteered and Crowdsourced Geographic Information

• Social media and disasters

• Collaborative mapping, disasters and resilience

• Crowdsensing, citizen science and disasters

• Ethics and privacy of crowdsourced geographic information.

Day 2

1.Lecture on “Crowdsensing for disaster resilience in practice” (2 hours). Existing tools for mobile data collection and how they are used to support disaster resilience and humanitarian work.

2. Workshop about mobile data collection and preparation for fieldwork (4 hours). Tutorial on the use of OpenDataKit and FieldPapers for data collection. Group work to design forms for mobile data collection and to print paper maps to be used in the field. Installation of the OpenDataClient in the smartphones and tablets.

Day 3

Fieldwork. Mobile data collection in the field (6 hours).

Day 4

1.Lecture “Analysing Urban Data for Disaster Resilience” (2 hours). How to use GIS tools (QGIS, JOSM) to process and digitise data collected and produce interactive web maps.

2. Data analysis workshop (4 hours). Students digitise and analyse data with supervision of the teaching staff..

Day 5

1.Data analysis workshop (2 hours). Students prepare interactive maps and presentations with supervision of the teaching staff.

2. Final group project presentations (4 hours). Student-led presentations with the results of the group projects..

Quick links:

Available on:

Mobile Phone with Map on Screen

"Filling the gaps of our urban knowledge: can crowd mapping and citizen participation tackle the challenges of urban resilience?"

Lecturer - Dr João Porto de Albuquerque