The use of WEBGIS to enhance community resilience to flooding: Discovering the tangible and intangible flood culture of the city of York

Gillian Shirley Chitty, Alessandra Sprega

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Historic built heritage is the tangible expression of the culture of a place. It represents the identity of a community in relation to its historical inheritance, aesthetic canons and system of beliefs. Natural disasters, such as flooding, constitute a violent interruption to the continuity of these tangible and intangible values. In this context of exceptional cultural emergency, community participation and the understanding of a local risk culture are considered key in the promotion of preventive measures and in reducing disaster vulnerability.
Over the last few decades, the cultural assets of the historic city of York (UK) have been threatened by an increasing frequency of flood episodes due to climate change. To mitigate the impact of the flooding and to protect vulnerable heritage, it is necessary to enhance the notion of ‘living with risk’ within the community affected. This project explores ways in which digital resources can be used to engage and increase community awareness and to integrate local ‘flood culture’ – how people understand, respond and adapt to flooding - in long-term planning and mitigation measures.
The study conducted in York’s historic centre, aims to enhance community resilience to flood through digital techniques and participatory planning. This research explores the potential of Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) online as a method able to record tangible and intangible elements of the York local flood culture in relation to the historic buildings affected by flooding. The data base created by GIS software will inform citizens and conservation practitioners about the vulnerability of historic buildings and it will suggest possible measures to adopt in accordance with principles of sustainability and compatibility with traditional materials, providing the basis for future best-practice guidelines. A web-based method is proposed that supports social learning and draws on the existing knowledge and capacities of the community.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2019
Event19th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium ICOMOS : Heritage and Democracy - delhi, India
Duration: 12 Nov 201815 Nov 2018


Other19th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium ICOMOS
Abbreviated titleICOMOS Heritage and Democracy

Cite this