Incorporating Local Knowledge about Coastal Communities with Drones, GIS and Spatial Storytelling

Timothy Hawthorne, University of Central Florida, Sociology, Orlando, FL, United States, Hannah Torres, Old Dominion University, Political Science and Geography, Norfolk, VA, United States, Kayla McClendon, Arizona State University, Tempe, United States, Arianna Ortiz, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, United States, Jana Elisse Clevenger, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, United States, Tyler Love, Clemson University, Clemson, United States, Lucas Farmer, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, United States and Zayna Flowers, University of Belize, Belize
Coastal communities and islands on the Belize Barrier Reef are facing many challenges due to their high vulnerability to climate change and anthropogenic effects. Along with help from multiple community partners, our Citizen Science GIS team utilized consumer-priced DJI Phantom 4 drones to capture high resolution imagery of the cayes and coastal communities of Belize. This imagery provides geospatial data to help explain observed land surface changes. Imagery gathered during the data collection process replaces outdated and low-resolution satellite imagery. ESRI’s Drone2Map software was used to process data and create orthomosaics of individual islands. These orthomosaics were then digitized to identify several aspects of the islands. Identified attributes include: how island boundaries changed over time, effects of mangrove loss, and types of structures (seawalls, buildings, docks). Our work also includes interviews and sketch mapping with community members as a form of spatial storytelling in order to prioritize local knowledge in the scientific research process. We discuss our open science mapping process and offer suggestions on how such processes can be used in other study sites to assist community partners in examining island and coastal communities. The work has significant implications for using geospatial technologies in Belize and globally to provide much needed local knowledge on the impacts and adaptations of these coastal and island communities.