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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-264
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Oct 2018

Research article | 04 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Communicating Disaster Risk? An Evaluation of the Availability and Quality of Flood Maps

Daniel Henstra1, Andrea Minano2, and Jason Thistlethwaite2 Daniel Henstra et al.
  • 1Department of Political Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1, Canada
  • 2School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1, Canada

Abstract. One of the key priorities for disaster risk reduction is to ensure decision-makers, stakeholders and the public understand their exposure to disaster risk, so that they take protective action. Flood maps are a potentially valuable tool for facilitating this understanding of flood risk, but previous research have found that they vary considerably in availability and quality. Using an evaluation framework comprising nine criteria grounded in existing scholarship, this study assessed the quality of flood maps available to the public in Canadian communities located in designated flood risk areas. It found that flood maps in most municipalities (62%) are low-quality (meeting less than 50% of the criteria) and the highest score was 78% (7 of 9 criteria met). The findings suggest that a more concerted effort to produce high-quality, publicly-accessible flood maps is required to support Canada's international commitment to disaster risk reduction. Further questions surround possible weighting of quality assessment criteria, whether and how individuals seek out flood maps, and how flood risk information could be better communicated using modern technology.

Daniel Henstra et al.
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Daniel Henstra et al.
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Short summary
Flood maps can help stakeholders and the public understand their flood risk. We evaluated the quality of publicly-accessible flood maps in Canadian communities designated as flood risk areas. We found that most (62 %) are low-quality (meeting less than half of the criteria) and the highest score was 78 % (7 of 9 criteria met). Canada must make a more concerted effort to produce high-quality flood maps to support its international commitment to disaster risk reduction.
Flood maps can help stakeholders and the public understand their flood risk. We evaluated the...
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