Robert is a PhD Candidate in Computer Science at the University of Colorado Boulder working on Crisis Informatics, human-centered computing (HCC), and science and technology studies (STS). His research and technical practice examine the various ways in which scientific and engineering understandings of climate change and disaster shape and constrain societal responses to these challenges. He holds a Master's Degree in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development from American University and Bachelor’s Degrees in History and Political Science from the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Robert is the co-founder of Co-Risk Labs, http://co-risk.org, a worker-owned consultancy focused on effective and ethical use of science and technology in the disaster and climate change space.
Prior to starting his PhD, Robert was a consultant to the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction, and Recovery (GFDRR), http://gfdrr.org, where he launched the Open Data for Resilience Initiative, http://opendri.org, a worldwide effort to harness open data, civic technology, and public participation to improve disaster risk management.
Robert currently resides in Oakland, CA, where he is researching information systems related to sea-level rise as part of his dissertation. Since moving to California he has been a visiting student researcher with University of California, Berkeley's Centre for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society, http://cstms.berkeley.edu and a visiting researcher and lecturer with the Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative, http://cstms.berkeley.edu.
Over the past 20 years, the practices of crisis preparedness, response, and recovery have become increasingly dependent on information and communication technology (ICT) to accomplish their work. These developments have been tracked by an emerging research area in human-centered computing called crisis informatics. My work makes the case for a closer connection between crisis informatics and critical social research into disaster, big data, and science and technology studies (STS). In this talk I will draw on examples from two of my field sites - flood hazard mapping in Boulder, Colorado and post-earthquake damage assessment in Nepal - to ask questions about the role of ICTs in shaping our understanding of, and guiding our response to, crisis. I argue for the adoption of a more critical agenda for crisis informatics research to better respond to contemporary challenges presented by climate change and natural hazards.