Last July I went back to study at the University of Sydney. I’m studying for a PhD in Geography and working with some truly excellent people. My research is centred around Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and natural disaster management. More specifically I’m looking at the potential use of VGI technologies for fostering community engagement in bushfire preparation. This research, now supported by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC), has lead me to the beautiful state of Tasmania to work in collaboration with the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS), undertaking fieldwork in high bushfire-risk communities across the state.
Key research objectives include determining the present levels of engagement in bushfire preparation, the present levels of engagement with VGI technologies and social media, and assessing the potential role for VGI to play in building bushfire resilience through community engagement. Through surveys, questionnaires and interviews I aim to gain insight into the following research questions:
- What proportion of people currently engages in bushfire preparation?
- What proportion of people currently feels empowered about their own bushfire management?
- How do people currently engage with their community?
- How many people use social media (or other VGI sources) in the community? What tools in particular, and what for?
- How many people use or would use social media/VGI in relation to bushfire events, and in what ways?
- Is VGI considered a reliable source for bushfire management?
- How useful are VGI technologies and social media considered to be for bushfire preparation?
I hope to use this blog to discuss some of the findings of this work in the future, but for now while I am still in Tasmania carrying out the field studies I will just share a few pictures and bits along the way from all the interesting places I’m visiting for this work.
|Flying over Tasmania en route to Hobart|
Mount Nelson – a suburb in the south of Hobart with many properties on high terrain very close to bushland. The area was significantly impacted by the infamous 1967 fires that devastated southern Tasmania.
Tolmans Hill – a relatively new and small community next to Mount Nelson. This image shows a blackened area where a small fire occurred last week, highlighting the potential danger for people and properties living in areas like this.