Coastal risk adaptation: the potential role of accessible geospatial Big Data
Increasing numbers of people are living in and using coastal areas. Combined with the presence of pervasive coastal threats, such as flooding and erosion, this is having widespread impacts on coastal populations, infrastructure and ecosystems. For the right adaptive strategies to be adopted, and planning decisions to be made, rigorous evaluation of the available options is required. This evaluation hinges on the availability and use of suitable datasets. For knowledge to be derived from coastal datasets, such data needs to be combined and analysed in an effective manner. This paper reviews a wide range of literature relating to data-driven approaches to coastal risk evaluation, revealing how limitations have been imposed on many of these methods, due to restrictions in computing power and access to data. The rapidly emerging field of ‘Big Data’ can help overcome many of these hurdles. ‘Big Data’ involves powerful computer infrastructures, enabling storage, processing and real-time analysis of large volumes and varieties of data, in a fast and reliable manner. Through consideration of examples of how ‘Big Data’ technologies are being applied to fields related to coastal risk, it becomes apparent that geospatial Big Data solutions hold clear potential to improve the process of risk based decision making on the coast. ‘Big Data’ does not provide a stand-alone solution to the issues and gaps outlined in this paper, yet these technological methods hold the potential to optimise data-driven approaches, enabling robust risk profiles to be generated for coastal regions.