When Landslides Strike

    The Challenge

    Design an easy-to-use tool to allow the public to discover and understand landslide data, and to contribute their own observations for use by emergency managers.


    Landslides are one of the most universal hazards in the world, and have caused more than 11,500 fatalities in 70 countries between 2007-2010 [1].  The most frequent trigger of landslides is intense and prolonged rainfall, which saturates soil on vulnerable slopes.  However, the location of extreme precipitation isn't always the location of the resulting disaster.  Weather forecasting can help predict future landslide events, while studying previous events can provide clues to identify locations that are most vulnerable to experiencing landslide impacts.  

    NASA’s Global Landslide Catalog (GLC)* was developed with the goal of identifying rainfall-triggered landslide events around the world, regardless of size, impacts or location. The GLC considers all types of mass movements triggered by rainfall, which have been reported in the media, disaster databases, scientific reports, or other sources.

    These important landslide data would have greater impacts the more accessible and discoverable they are.  Your challenge is to design a tool with visualization and crowd-sourcing capabilities to allow users to discover and understand landslide data, and to contribute their own observations easily.  Make sure that the tool is easy to use, and the information easily accessible and understandable by the public and emergency managers who must respond to these types of disasters.

    This challenge addresses the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to engage all countries and all stakeholders in a collaborative partnership.  The SDGs aim to build a better future for all people by achieving sustainable development in three dimensions – economic, social, and environmental – in the spirit of strengthened global solidarity:

    • Goal 1.5:  By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.
    • Goal 11.5: By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations.
    • Goal 13.1:  Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.


    You may consider the following options as you design your tool:

    - Build an interactive visualization tool that allows overlaying of landslide data and images on popular Earth browsers, or Earth mapping websites. 

    - Design a crowd sourcing data collection framework.

    • You may use fields that are already being used in the GLC.
    • Ensure that the mobile user interface is easy to use.
    • Allow for users to contribute multiple field reports on a single occurrence.
    • Provide desktop users a dashboard or similar option to revise information (for example, including basemaps and changing entered tracking information) 
    • Allow for addition of photos.

    - Consider options to compare landslide data with other variables.

    • You may link landslide data from the API with precipitation data, and compare these data with landslide models for improved validation (Precipitation API available at: https://pmm.nasa.gov/precip-apps, global landslide nowcasts information at: https://pmm.nasa.gov/applications/global-landslide-model).
    • You may compare landslide data with socioeconomic data (see NASA’s SEDAC resource below) to identify zones of vulnerable populations that may warrant monitoring for impact in real time to inform disaster response. 

    - Allow user-tagging of social media posts

    *Note: The GLC has been compiled since 2007 at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. This is a unique data set with the ID tag “GLC” in the landslide editor.

    [1] “Landslides.”  Precipitation Measurement Missions.  National Aeronautics Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center.  Website Accessed March 2017. https://pmm.nasa.gov/applications/landslides
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