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Drone Mapping for Community Participation in Disaster Risk Reduction

Abstract

Disasters deepen and sustain social inequality; they are never natural. Vulnerable individuals, families, and communities often live in territories already characterized by lack of security, marginality, and lack access to basic goods for survival. Extreme natural events (earthquakes, tsunamis, urban forest fires, floods) become a double burden for those communities. The exchange between experts and these communities, however, is often fraud with a lack of understanding of how risk is construed. Advocacy for mitigation, reconstruction, and education, therefore, are fraught with disempowering qualities. Emerging media (social networks, co-design thinking, aerial robotics) may offer new ways of engaging in the assessment of risk and points of resilience. Our work in with local communities in Chile to develop tools and expertise to utilize drones and other media in those territories intends to engage in different conversations about risk and resilience. Building on the information that this media produces and the interactions that can foster, we are listening with dignity, letting the people and the territory speak to focus on disasters as social phenomena and not simply as the development of tools to address the emergency. We are experimenting with cutting edge technologies to strengthen the ability of communities to connect and organize, advocate, and understand the ecology of their territory. Faced with a disaster, their ability to focus on points of resilience should prepare them to withstand the social and health illnesses that may emerge during times of high stress as the result of a extreme natural event.

Keywords

Community participation, resilience, education, drones, disaster risk reduction

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