DataCivil: institutionalising citizen-generated data for risk reduction in Favelas 
 A project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Impact Acceleration Account (ESRC IAA)


Risk is commonly understood as the probability of a hazard occurring in combination with vulnerability and capacity. Disaster risk reduction policies in Brazil and Colombia were analysed by Ulbrich et al. (in print), revealing that the likelihood of a hazard, such as a landslide or flood, is often the most tangible and documented factor in disaster risk management. However, limited information exists about factors of vulnerability or capacity, such as the structural condition of houses in favelas. As a result, interventions tend to be reactive and fail to acknowledge existing capacities in the community.

Geohazards, such as landslides or floods, can be extremely devastating in physically and socially vulnerable areas like self-constructed neighbourhoods. In such areas, factors of vulnerability, such as building structure or access to basic services, are difficult to measure using standard data sources. Previous University of Glasgow research on ‘Understanding Risks & Building Enhanced Capabilities in Latin American Cities’ (UKRI GCRF project URBE Latam) developed a methodology for co-creating geospatial data about vulnerability to geohazards in the favela Morro do Preventório, in Niterói (State of Rio de Janeiro), Brazil. The maps co-produced with the community significantly improved existing municipal risk models, and this type of information strengthens the municipal Civil Defence Agency’s mandate to work preventatively to reduce and mitigate risk.

Recent research (Porto de Albuquerque et al., 2023) suggests that the collaboration between municipal risk agencies and residents to co-create risk data not only addresses municipal data gaps and enhances granularity but also increases trust in the data by both sides and empowers citizens to take measures for risk reduction and strengthens their voice when articulating the need for assistance from municipal agencies. This project applies these insights at the city level, building on the existing partnership with Niterói’s civil defence secretariat.


The municipal Civil Defence Agency in Niterói has a network of community volunteers in the city's neighbourhoods. This project aims to further reduce and mitigate the risk of geohazards in favelas by collaborating with the volunteer network and building upon the momentum of URBE Latam. The project team, the municipal Civil Defence, and community volunteers will work together to design a module for community risk mapping, which will be included in the standard civil defence volunteer training curriculum.


Niterói's civil defence currently relies on national geological survey maps to identify high-risk areas for landslides at the neighbourhood level. However, this is not enough to identify all potential hazards. To address this, the civil defence plans to integrate community risk

mapping into the standard training for civil defence volunteers. Post-training, volunteers will create more detailed maps, including various hazard types and disaster impact perceptions. These maps will help civil defence prioritise risk reduction efforts, contributing to municipal budget allocation and disaster reduction. Additionally, local volunteers will be able to identify houses needing structural improvements. The integration of the new module into volunteer training will thus improve disaster response and reduce risk.

PI: Dr. Philipp Ulbrich
University of Glasgow Co-Investigator: Prof. João Porto de Albuquerque

Researchers and collaborators:


Lieutenant Colonel Wallace Medeiros, Municipal Secretary for Civil Defence, Niterói, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Felipe Reis, Emergency Manager, Niterói Civil Defence, Niterói
Marcos Rodrigo Ferreira, Community Leader and Director Preventório Community Bank, Niterói
Alessandra Figueiredo, Community Researcher, PrevêLab General Coordinator, Niterói
Community Civil Defence Volunteers from Niterói


Ulbrich, P., Leal Sobral, A. Rivera-Flórez, L. A., Rodríguez-Gaviria, E., Porto de Albuquerque, J., Coaffee, J., Marchezini, V. (in print) Assessing equity in disaster risk governance in Brazil and Colombia. Disaster Prevention and Management.

Porto de Albuquerque, J., Anderson, L., Calvillo, N., Cattino, M., Clarke, A., Cunha, M. A., Degrossi, L. C., Garde-Hansen, J., Klonner, C., Lima-Silva, F., Marchezini, V., Martins, M. H. d. M., Pajarito Grajales, D., Pitidis, V., Rizwan, M., Tkacz, N. & Trajber, R. (2023). Dialogic data innovations for sustainability transformations and flood resilience: The case for waterproofing data. Global Environmental Change, 82, 102730. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2023.102730

Rivera-Flórez, L. A., Rodríguez-Gaviria, E., and Ulbrich, P. (2020). From disaster to dialogue? Talking about risk and resilience with a community leader from Medellín. URBE Latam Blog: University of Warwick