App May Help Track Impact of Coastal Losses

January 23, 2013

An Internet-based app under development may help a Web app may help document the disappearing culture of south Louisiana communities are they are displaced by coastal erosion.

Called “Vanishing Points,” the app is being developed by Florida International University student Sandra Maina, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center.

The Courier reports it is designed to allow community members to log memories, interviews and photos of places that are disappearing because of coastal erosion.

Maina said she previously worked on projects such as hurricane modeling but wanted to do a more applied project that would benefit society.

“It’s not just for the community,” Maina said. “It’s for others to realize that there are people down here that need our help. They’re yelling for help, and no one seems to be listening.”

Maina works with University Cooperation for Atmospheric Research’s SOARS program. SOARS, which stands for Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research in Science, focuses on mentoring undergraduate science students and preparing them for graduate school.

SOARS students came to Terrebonne Parish last year to meet with community members, said Rebecca Haacker-Santos, head of student opportunities at University Cooperation for Atmospheric Research.

The idea of the Internet-based app is to make it for communities to document their culture.

Maina hopes to have the app finished by May, and it should be available to the public by the end of summer.

If the app is successful, it could be adapted for use in other communities facing natural and ecological disasters, Maina said.

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