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Crowdsourced data can effectively observe environmental and urban ecosystem processes. The use of data produced by untrained people into flood forecasting models may effectively allow Early Warning Systems (EWS) to better perform while support decision-making to reduce the fatalities and economic losses due to inundation hazard. In this work, we develop a Data Assimilation (DA) method integrating Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and a 2D hydraulic model and we test its performances. The proposed framework seeks to extend the capabilities and performances of standard DA works, based on the use of traditional in situ sensors, by assimilating VGI while managing and taking into account the uncertainties related to the quality, and the location and timing of the entire set of observational data. The November 2012 flood in the Italian Tiber River basin was selected as the case study. Results show improvements of the model in terms of uncertainty with a significant persistence of the model updating after the integration of the VGI, even in the case of use of few-selected observations gathered from social media. This will encourage further research in the use of VGI for EWS considering the exponential increase of quality and quantity of smartphone and social media user worldwide.

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Geo-spatial Information Science



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