Created an app for residents to report flooding on their streets, creating an influx of crowdsourced data that the City could act upon.
Received data from mapped geolocation spots that identified neighborhoods needing infrastructure improvements.
Accessed satellite images through Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer that guided streetscape planning and reduced runoff and flood levels.
A Community Engagement Upgrade
When the City released its stormwater master plan last year, the app also came in handy on the stakeholder engagement front. In addition to in-person meetings where residents could point out flood-prone areas on a map, the app offered another touchpoint to ask community members what they were experiencing and collect their feedback.
“We went to the community to see if the forecasting models were validated by what the residents were seeing,” Hew says.
The app also guides the Department of Resilience & Public Works’ outreach efforts. It doesn’t reach all Miami residents, since some lack access to reliable internet access or have limited English proficiency. (A Spanish-language version of the app is also available.) But by seeing which neighborhoods have low levels of engagement in the app, Hew and her colleagues can tell their community managers to focus in-person efforts in those areas.
Her department utilizes data beyond the ISeeChange app as well. Through a pilot with Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer, the team has access to satellite images that detail Miami’s tree canopy. That is more granular data than the City has ever had, says Alissa Farina, who is also a resilience programs manager in the resilience department. She anticipates it will guide streetscape planning moving forward; trees can help reduce runoff and flood levels by absorbing water.
The hope is to pull together in one place all the data the City receives about how climate change affects residents. In addition to the app, residents can also provide information through email and 311. The larger goal is a central, GIS-based database that all city departments can access and pull from, Farina says. This resource would be maintained by the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT), which leads Miami’s data-related efforts, and help improve capital project planning, emergency management, and implementation of climate-related programs, among other things.
With the effects of climate change likely to intensify in the coming decades, the stakes are high for Miami’s resiliency efforts. But the City’s commitment to foundational data-driven practices, especially stakeholder engagement and data governance, is already yielding clear benefits.