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USF’s St. Petersburg campus to host workshop on climate change and resiliency

Jaymi Butler

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climate change
An upcoming workshop at USF's St. Petersburg campus will explore how technology can be used to address issues related to climate change.

As local leaders grapple with issues surrounding climate change, the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus Initiative on Coastal Adaptation and Resilience (iCAR) is working to identify ways for the community to protect itself and be more resilient.  

On Nov. 12 and 13, iCAR will host its sixth annual workshop for scientists, policymakers and residents to come together virtually to discuss the role technology can play in investigating climatic trends, particularly in regard to equity issues in resiliency planning. Attendees will also share strategies for strengthening communication among those impacted, and work to create solutions that support adaptation and resilience. After the event, researchers will present their recommendations to city officials. 

“From the discussions and work that came out of our previous workshops, focusing on technology seemed like the most logical extension when it comes to adapting to climate change in Tampa Bay – both in terms of further understanding the problem and solving it,” said Barnali Dixon, executive director of iCAR and professor of geosciences at USF St. Petersburg’s campus.

To that end, Dixon and his colleague, Rebecca Johns, recently launched an interactive crowdsourcing platform that allows citizens across St. Petersburg to track and monitor the impacts of climate change in their neighborhoods. The platform, called the Community Resiliency Information System (CRIS), uses public engagement and crowdsourced data to learn more about the local consequences of climate change. Residents can log onto CRIS and answer surveys about their experiences with hurricanes, flooding and power outages, and that information can then be shared with local leaders and emergency managers. They can also use the platform to learn more about how to prepare for a disaster.

Although tools like CRIS are invaluable in collecting data, both Dixon and Johns recognize the technology gap that exists in marginalized communities that may be especially vulnerable to the impact of climate change. That’s why a large portion of the workshop will focus on technologies that are compatible with existing devices and platforms that most people have access to and are familiar with. 

“We recognize technology can be used as a tool and help with democratic participation and resilience building,” Johns said. “We also recognize that it has social equity limitations.”

More than 160 participants from organizations including NASA, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are expected to attend the workshop. International speakers from as far away as Australia will also weigh in during the event about technologies that are enhancing climate resiliency and lessons that they’ve learned.

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

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