Waterproofing Data

Waterproofing Data

Typically, data flows up from local levels to scientific "centres of expertise", and then flood-related alerts and interventions flow back down through local governments and into communities.

Rethinking how flood-related data is produced, and how it flows, can help build sustainable, flood resilient communities.

Waterproofing Data investigates the governance of water-related risks, with a focus on social and cultural aspects of data practices.

The project will be conducted by a highly skilled international team of researchers with multiple disciplinary backgrounds from Brazil, Germany and the UK, in close partnership with researchers, stakeholders and the public of a multi-site case study on flood risk management in Brazil. Furthermore, the methods and results of this case study will be the basis for a transcultural dialogue with government organisations and local administration involved in flood risk management in Germany and the United Kingdom.

Aims and Objectives

This project develops three innovative methods around data practices, across different sites and scales:

  • Making visible existing flows of flood-related data through tracing data;
  • Generating new types of data at the local level by engaging citizens through the creation of multimodal interfaces, which sense, collect and communicate flood data, and;
  • Integrating citizen-generated data with other data using geo-computational techniques.

These methodological interventions will transform how flood-related data is produced and flows, creating new governance arrangements between citizens, governments and flood experts and, ultimately, increased community resilience related to floods in vulnerable communities of Sao Paulo and Rio Branco, Brazil.


Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Sustainable Development Goal 11 logo

The expected long-term impact of this project is a contribution towards the SDG 11 targets of:

  • Reducing the number of deaths and people affected by water-related disasters and reducing direct economic losses caused (SDG 11.5)
  • Increasing the number of cities and human settlements adopting integrated policies and plans towards resilience to disasters and holistic disaster risk management (SDG 11.B).
THE Awards shortlist logo

The Waterproofing Data project has already had significant impacts on flood-prone communities, resulting in it appearing on the shortlist for the Times Higher Education Awards 2022 Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Waterproofing Data dashboard

Designed to support flood resilience and prevention activities, the Waterproofing Data dashboard is intended for use by both community members and disaster risk management professionals, such as civil protection agencies. In adopting a place-based approach, the platform exists to serve flood-prone communities that also suffer from poor flood-related data coverage and engage them in activities that can help to make their communities more resilient to climate damage. Using the dashboard, partner communities and urban managers around Brazil can now monitor the data contributed by citizens through the Waterproofing Data mobile app and analyse these contributions within the context of data from official weather stations and flood hazard data from official agencies.

Community members and climate action professionals can use the dashboard to find recent and historical reports of flood-related activity in local areas. By presenting multiple narratives in the same place, the platform aims to enrich existing flood data coverage, increase critical consciousness and empower communities to participate in collective, preventative actions for reducing disaster risks.

For a current list of platform features, please read our latest blog about the Waterproofing Data dashboard.


The code and resources used to build the platform are publicly available in this Github repository.

Policy brief

Read the policy brief on strengthening resilience to floods using citizen-generated data.


Principal Investigator: Professor João Porto de Albuquerque




Cemaden logo
University of Warwick logo
University of Heidelberg logo
FGV logo

Co-operating organisations

British Geological Survey logo
CPRM logo
Prefeitura de Sao Paolo logo
ACRE logo


Belmont Forum logo
Norface logo
GCRF logo
ESRC logo
Horizon 2020 logo
BMBF logo
FONA logo

The Waterproofing Data project is financially supported by the Belmont Forum and NORFACE Joint Research Programme on Transformations to Sustainability, which is co-funded by DLR/BMBF, ESRC, FAPESP, and the European Commission through Horizon 2020. The UK funding for this project is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund.

Jointly funded by