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Geospatial data and community resilience – Joanna Wilkin (Geo4Dev 2018)


A final year postgraduate student at the University of Southampton, Joanna’s research focuses on how to use Call Detail Records (CDRs) and other sources of geospatial data to measure and monitor community resilience. Stemming from her background as a GIS analyst for the British Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières in the U.K, where she worked on providing mapping and analysis support during the Nepal earthquake and Ebola crisis, Joanna’s priority is always ensuring that whatever data is provided during a response, it has a practical purpose. Her PhD with the Worldpop research group and the Flowminder Foundation has focused on developing innovative approaches to using CDRs within disaster response, with a primary interest in how the data can be used to reconstruct social networks to provide connectivity estimates within resilience indicators. Outside of her work, she helped to establish The Missing Maps Project in 2014, running local, university and corporate mapathons in London, Southampton and most recently in Perth, Australia and has presented on the work of the Project at the Royal Geographical Society in London and at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, her alma mater (reading Geography BA at St. Peter’s College).

Joanna’s talk is titled: Geospatial data, community resilience and the three P’s: property, process and practice
Despite featuring highly within both policy and academic literature, the meaning and thus measurement of resilience remains uncertain. Paradoxical definitions exist, which place value on resilience as both a property – the ability to withstand disturbance – and as a process – building capacity for transformation. Within disaster risk reduction, both of these definitions are critical and, most importantly, not mutually exclusive. When measuring resilience, however, only its treatment as a property has received extensive attention. As a result, the relationship between resilience as a property (inherent) and a process (adaptive) remains theoretical and untested, which contributes to a critical disconnect between current resilience scientific research and the practical actions of policy and decision makers (Cai et al, 2018). Any future measurement or mapping of community resilience should therefore aim to reduce this void and not contribute to it further. This presentation provides a critical commentary on how those working with geospatial data can help with furthering the understanding and measurement of community resilience. It outlines current approaches to its measurement with existing data as well as proposes potential innovative methods utilizing novel data sources, such as mobile phone data and satellite imagery. These potentially dynamic datasets could revolutionize how resilience is measured, which in turn could help those at the forefront of practice in resilience policy.

The 2nd Annual Symposium on Geospatial Analysis for International Development (Geo4Dev) focused on geospatial research that addresses climate- and conflict-driven migration and humanitarian response. This includes observation and modeling of migration and human settlement patterns (in response to climate or conflict stressors), as well as the design and evaluation of interventions for humanitarian crises, mass migration, and community resilience.

Geo4Dev is a yearly event focused on the use of novel geospatial data and analytic techniques to address issues of poverty, sustainable development, urbanization, climate change, and economic growth in developing countries and beyond. This includes a particular emphasis on the use of emerging geo-tagged big data, including satellite, social media, and CDR datasets.

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