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Digital traces of climate risks : assessing the communication impact of Paris resilience strategy

Abstract : Climate pressures contribute to the complexity of urban systems that have multiple functions and interacting components. The concept of resilience introduces a holistic approach, embracing both the physical environmental and the socio-economic components of cities. This thesis contributes to the current need to forge this link when studying climate-related risks in urban areas. More specifically, it attempts to answer the question: how can we assess the impact of communication on urban resilience?‘Resilience thinking’ involves overcoming fragmentation in risk management, by creating synergies among stakeholders. It is a challenge that illustrates the importance of the ‘social construction of reality’: a specific dimension of the city that corresponds to the perceptions and attitudes of the urban community regarding an issue or solution. Identifying relevant communication indicators is a prerequisite to collecting meaningful data on stakeholder views and evaluating their impact on resilience.With these premises in mind, the thesis proposes new communication indicators. These indicators have been created and tested in the context of the Paris region to investigate the communication processes that underlie local climate resilience strategies.The first part of this study revolves around the communication actions implemented in Paris by local, national and international authorities in the framework of flood resilience strategies. Recurrent and relevant communication variables have been identified and used as a basis to outline communication indicators.Some of these indicators have then been tested. A first series of experiments are based on research methods that are usually adopted by SIA (Social Impact Assessment) experts. Exploration techniques of unstructured big data (advanced text mining and complex network representation) have been used for a second set of experiments.The experiments based on SIA techniques (press coverage monitoring, a questionnaire and interviews) have been carried out in the framework of the communication strategy of Interreg NWE IVB RainGain, a European project on urban flood resilience.Communication impact has been evaluated in both quantitative (frequency of communication activities and audience size) and qualitative terms (knowledge transfer and risk perception reduction). Impact evolution over time and correlations with another resilience driver (weather hazards) have been also addressed.The experiments based on text mining and network representation have resulted into an analysis of the socio-semantic networks that underlie digital communications.Four corpora of texts have been extracted from the Web: tweets and press news covering the Seine River flood of 2016 and the Alpes-Maritimes flood of 2015; public authorities’ documents on flood risk management in the Paris region, released from 2003 to 2017.The analysis of the corpora was supported by open source software (Gargantext and Gephi) and it has involved several steps: extraction of hundreds of key terms; network representations based on key term co-occurrences; cluster visualisation based on adjacency matrix; quantitative analysis of the nodes and edges. This has allowed appraising the most prominent topics and actors, as well as frequent connections and clusters of topics and actors that characterise the media and political debates.Through a comparison of the four corpora, it has been possible to observe ho these patterns change in the context of two different extreme weather events, in the short-term and in the long-term.
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Rosa Vicari. Digital traces of climate risks : assessing the communication impact of Paris resilience strategy. Climatology. Université Paris-Est, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018PESC1168⟩. ⟨tel-02513428⟩

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