Enhancing resilience within vulnerable communities affected by flooding: A community based design initiative for open-source user centred design
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Global Warming is one of the largest challenges the world now faces. Validated by extreme weather patterns and re-occurring natural disasters, Climate Change threatens the world’s population. Severe changes in climate causes rising sea levels, drought, floods, and storms etc. impacting communities physically, environmentally, socially and economically. With the occurrence of extreme events such as these, communities become vulnerable, disjointed and impaired. Flooding is the most frequent natural disaster experienced by the Irish community. Over recent decades, Ireland has shown low capacity in anticipating, coping, resisting and recovering from flood events. This has resulted in the inundation of private property, commercial premises, agricultural land and transport routes. As a consequence, communities have been seriously affected with little or no protection from floodwater. The Irish community have displayed little compliance in introducing societal change and embracing community based initiatives, relying heavily on Governmental Bodies to implement flood defence measures. With a reduction in community engagement and a lack of adaptive resources, communities gradually become weaker and more exposed to the adverse effects of flooding. This research has highlighted the need for increased alertness toward flooding and strengthened links between the affected community, responding professionals and responding community. The research aimed to define the elements necessary for increasing community vigilance and examined how these could be introduced into weakened community areas, focusing on the slow integration of knowledge, technology and skill transfer as a starting point for enhancing activity. This allows for shared experiences and gives communities the option for adopting successful initiatives. Further analysis highlights community complexity, the difficulty of introducing societal change and strengthening adaptive capacities. The researcher utilized grounded theory to gain insight into how affected community members interact with flood events in collaboration with the Local County Council, The OPW, Local Authorities and the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change. Affected community members were involved throughout this study, participating in both interviews and field studies. This allowed participants to share local knowledge specific to the areas being examined, preparation measures taken for previous floods and their plans for newly anticipated flood events. Key findings from initial enquiry stage conclude that; Communities are complex and comprised of economic, social, physical and institutional components. If an event such as a flood were to disrupt community networks, vulnerability is increased, and areas become more susceptible to damage. Another aspect to consider is that communities made up of different community culture, various existing groups, diverse attitudes and values, patterns of settlement etc., which makes it difficult to implement societal change. Increased knowledge, skill and technology transfer aims to provide communities with the tools required to implement change and slowly integrate adaptation methodologies and techniques for reducing flood related impacts. To conclude, this investigation has highlighted that there is a major need for increased ability to endure flood events in Ireland. This research outlines how communities can be enhanced through the use of open-source product design supported by knowledge, skill and technology transfer, mending existing and forming new community links. A slow integration of initiatives aimed at alleviating the effects of flooding and adaptive measures, aims to strengthen community networks and boost engagement. The establishment of a flood sensor network supported by an online platform provides communities with an open-source, low-cost solution for allowing communities to prepare and respond better to flood related disasters.
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