Completed: December 2020.

Funding: ASFPM Foundation.

Partner: Wes Shaw / Blue Urchin.

The Community Flood Notebook prototype platform researched and developed by ASFPM’s Flood Science Center, provides a starting point for a standardized, comprehensive platform for storage and retrieval of flood event data by the public in partnership with local professional staff including floodplain and coastal managers, planners, and emergency managers. The Notebook would additionally allow communities to harness the crowdsourcing capabilities of mobile devices to engage the public in the flood documentation process, giving them ownership in the effort.

The Community Flood Notebook is based on the work of Dr. Gilbert White, considered the father of floodplain management. Dr. White created the Boulder Creek Flood Notebook as a research program aimed at emergency managers to report, in a timely fashion, the extent of loss of life, property damage, social disruption, and environmental destruction associated with historic flooding on Colorado’s Boulder Creek. The Community Flood Notebook combines elements of Dr. White’s research and new web mapping services, smartphones and mobile devices.

Data can be collected before, during and after a flood and may include, but is not limited to geolocated photos, hydrographs, precipitation maps, river/tide gauges, videos and high water marks. Web services hosted by NOAA, USGS, FEMA and other federal and state agencies allow many of these datasets to be automatically integrated into web platforms like the Notebook.

Communities would create a unique “Flood Event” for each flood that impacts their community. The proposed business model advocates that state programs, such as the State Floodplain Manager/NFIP Coordinator or State Hazard Mitigation Office, would host the Notebook platform for all the communities in their state, to ensure communities of any size have access. Over time, a collection of events would be archived, supporting the community’s institutional memory, hazard mitigation planning and flood risk communication efforts to name a few, all aimed at using information on past floods to reduce future flood losses. Local flood event documentation for larger regional, state or national flood events could be “rolled up” into a single named event, to help state and federal officials with recovery, mitigation and resilience planning.

A Research Summary Report is available to learn more about the research and prototype development process used to create a pilot version of the Community Flood Notebook:

Community Flood Notebook: Research Summary Report