Community-Level, Participatory Co-Design for Landslide Warning with Implications for Climate Services
Published in: Sustainability, Volume 15, Issue 5 (2023). doi: 10.3390/su15054294
Posted on RAND.org on March 01, 2023
Inclusive, participatory governance is a key enabler of effective responses to natural hazard risks exacerbated by climate change. This paper describes a community-level co-design process among academic, state, and federal scientists and the community of Sitka, Alaska to develop a novel landslide warning system for this small coastal town. The decentralized system features an online dashboard which displays current and forecast risk levels to help residents make their own risk management decisions. The system and associated risk communications are informed by new geoscience, social, and information science generated during the course of the project. This case study focuses on our project team's activities and addresses questions including: what activities did the project team conduct, what did these activities intend to accomplish, and did these activities accomplish what they intended? The paper describes the co-design process, the associated changes in system design and research activities, and formal and informal evaluations of the system and process. Overall, the co-design process appears to have generated a warning system the Sitka community finds valuable, helped to align system design with local knowledge and community values, significantly modified the scientists' research agendas, and helped navigate sensitivities such as the effect of landslide exposure maps on property values. Other communities in SE Alaska are now adopting this engagement approach. The paper concludes with broader implications for the role of community-level, participatory co-design and risk governance for climate services.