Public asked to help build national flood photo database


NIWA is asking people in flood-affected areas to contribute photos to a national database to support understanding of flood hazard and flood risk.

The NZ Flood Pics project is part of a five-year Endeavour Fund research programme that is examining how flood risk will change over the next century from climate warming, more frequent and extreme weather events, and land-use changes.

As well as being used by NIWA and its research partners, the database will provide a free resource about recent floods in Aotearoa. It will be searchable by location, date and keyword.

Photos taken on a smartphone can be uploaded via NIWA’s citizen science app, which geolocates where the photo has been taken. There are also options to input more information about the flood.

“We really hope that New Zealanders will help us capture photo evidence of floods across the country. These snapshots will build up our knowledge of where and when flood impacts occur,” says Dr Andrew Lorrey, NIWA Principal Scientist of Climate and Environmental Applications.

“Floods are unfortunately increasing in frequency and severity across Aotearoa – meaning they pose one of the biggest risk areas for society. The photo database we’re building will support new strategies to increase resilience – which is more important than ever,” he says.

Tonkin and Taylor Engineering Manager and flood risk expert Jon Rix, who pioneered the development of NZ Flood Pics, says efforts to protect people and property from floods in New Zealand have traditionally been hampered by the lack of actual flood information. 

“Through the simple application of smartphone photography, NZ Flood Pics can provide a meaningful contribution toward reducing flood risk by providing direct evidence of floods.  I am really excited by the development of NIWA’s citizen science app, as we look to gather more information to support our country’s flood management decision-making.”

The app is free to use and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play.


Principal Scientist - Climate and Environmental Applications