Crowdsourcing for Forensic Disaster Analysis

Crowdsourcing data allow a fast overview of the situation after natural disasters.

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After a disaster, tourism declines and tourism destinations suffer, because tourists cancel their reservations and choose to go elsewhere. This disruption can last only weeks if the disaster is not so severe and the response and recovery are well managed. But it can take much longer as a result of inaccurate rumors, heightened perception of risk and media attention even though the destination may have fully recovered.  Effective post-crisis tourism recovery is about delivering a timely and verifiable message, and simultaneously building trust with consumers and the travel trade.

The Heidelberg Karlsruhe research partnership – HEIKA – has funded a research project between Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)  to bring together the complimentary expertise in near real-time Forensic Disaster Analysis (FDA) at the Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM, KIT) with expertise available in Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) at the GIScience Research Group of Heidelberg University, to capture and analyze key parameters of destination recovery via both crowd sourcing methods and near real-time analysis of information on the ground through structured surveys. Our aim is to collect and draw on various types of emerging data following a disaster event in a tourism destination to produce a set of response and recovery metrics of the affected area.
This information is of immediate use to national and local governments, insurance industry and investors, tourism boards, tour operators and hotel associations amongst other actors who have an immediate interest in obtaining an objective and factual metric of a destination’s recovery following a natural disaster.

Crowdsourcing offers the capacity to quickly process huge amounts of data and might represent the only source of information in certain situations. Consequently, crowdsourcing and Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) are useful to complete official information on the recovery situation collected on the ground. Factors such as safety, road condition, appearance of the town and natural environment, availability of tourist attractions, amongst others, are important to tourists and meaningful to tourist operators. Our aim is to rapidly evaluate and monitor data on the recovery of a destination and report this evidence in a form stakeholders can understand easily. 

The main result is the development of a Crowdsourcing for Forensic Disaster Analysis (Crowd FDA) scientific framework and novel methods to implement a near real-time response and recovery metrics that will inform the readiness level of the destination to welcome tourists back. The research provides a good test ground for building a CrowdFDA application which is potentially of high interest to a range of local, national and international stakeholders within the tourism sector.

Text and data in cooperation with CEDIM, an interdisciplinary research institution by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

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