Coastal Communities


Mobilizing communities to share microdata about climate impacts to better inform adaptation and infrastructure design

Team Lead

Julia Kumari Drapkin

Hear the Pitch

The Problem

As the effects of climate change increase in neighborhoods around the world, city officials and insurers seek to mitigate damage with infrastructure solutions. However, city infrastructure planning often doesn’t involve the stakeholders it will most impact: the communities that live there. Without their key input, solutions are less effective—and less trusted.

The Solution

ISeeChange’s platform mobilizes communities to share their own personal climate stories, photos, and weather measurements. ISeeChange combines this real-time data with sensor networks and natural language processing to illustrate community-scale climate trends.

Cities, engineers, and insurers use this data to inform climate adaptation planning, public safety, modeling and infrastructure design—enabling them to build solutions that work best for communities. The ISeeChange platform also gives a voice to community leaders and residents.

Market Opportunity

  • By the end of this decade, McKinsey estimates the smart city industry will be a $400 billion market.
  • Few vendors in engineering and design focus on the powerful combination of qualitative and quantitative data in climate and resilience planning.
  • Meanwhile, public climate resilience spending will continue to grow; Congress approved nearly $90 billion in aid for floods and fires in 2017 alone.

Organization Highlights

  • In a successful 2017 pilot, tested data services with a selected number of potential customers, including city agencies and engineering companies
  • Speaking engagements: AAAS Community Driven Citizen Science; URI's Inclusive SciComm Symposium; ResCon; USAID Resilience Measurement, Evidence, and Learning; MIT's Collective Wisdom, and more
  • Awards: AI for the Betterment of Humanity Prize, National Murrow for Innovation, Scripps Howard Environmental Journalism
  • Media: This American Life, Gizmodo, Adweek, Discover, PBS, Yale Climate Connections, WNYC, WBEZ, PRI's The World, Next City, Governing Magazine

Existing Partnerships

A variety of organizations use ISeeChange’s data and engagement tools, such as:

  • City of New Orleans’ Office of Resilience and Sustainability
  • Engineering and architecture firms
  • New Orleans Department of Public Health
  • New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
  • The American Geophysical Union's Thriving Earth Exchange
  • Flood Forum USA

Organization Goals

By 2020, ISeeChange aims to be revenue positive while advancing its technology. To do so, ISeeChange will:

  • Define a sustainable fee-for-service business model that incorporates community input into infrastructure design with public and private funding sources
  • Scale the set of cities and companies signing on as customers while also increasing their public user base
  • Integrate AI features into its software platform

Partnership Goals

To reach the goals mentioned above, ISeeChange seeks partnerships to:

  • Receive strategic mentorship on business model strategy in the construction, municipal, and community engagement spaces
  • Leverage mainstream social media platforms and traditional media for user engagement and community growth
  • Implement appropriate AI approaches to improve predictions and effective engagement


4,000 users contribute to the ISeeChange platform globally, and when ISeeChange launches a new pilot, user monthly acquisition rate triples.

Solver Team

Organization Type:

New Orleans, LA, USA


Working in:
Global user base with revenue customers from the USA

7 part-time

Solution Team:

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