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Think-a-Thon ignites collaborative spirit

30 July 2018

Our Centre for Disaster, Resilience, Recovery and Reconstruction (CDRRR) has been known to place students and researchers in disaster-affected parts of the world, but recently, they brought their expertise closer to home.

Auckland Emergency Management has embarked on a programme of work to build resilience in Auckland communities. Part of this involves a CDRRR-organised Resilience Think-a-Thon that brings together our University’s researchers and Auckland Council to brainstorm ideas to be turned into potential research projects.

The Auckland Council and University of Auckland’s Think-a-Thon was held at the Unleash Space on Wednesday 25 July. It focused on building resilience in urban environments, and was facilitated by the CDRRR’s Professor Suzanne Wilkinson and Auckland Emergency Management’s Melanie Hutton. The 24 participants included researchers across the University and three people from Auckland Council, forming a diverse group from disciplines that include engineering, health, arts, architecture, planning, science and business.

Community engagement was a common concern in the discussion topics. The first activity involved a challenge to come up with ideas and projects that can be trialed to engage with diverse communities more effectively to build resilience. The second challenge was about communicating without telecommunications and electronics technology. To approach this issue, the teams were tasked with investigating the impediments to good communication, the effects of disasters on communication, and ways to enhance communications without resilient systems in place.

Professor Suzanne Wilkinson notes that the teams have produced a series of excellent potential project ideas which are now being processed for further consideration alongside Auckland Council. Some engineering-focused ideas involve the use of wearable or transformative emergency items, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, drones, and multi-use everyday items, while other ideas include VIVID Auckland signage and the redesign of public spaces.

The success of this event has encouraged more Think-a-Thons to be planned for the near future.


The CDRRR brings together expertise across the University of Auckland and regularly collaborates with researchers worldwide. Find out more.

Auckland Emergency Management involves Auckland Council partnering with emergency services and other organisations to manage risks and hazards in Auckland across reduction, readiness, response and recovery efforts. Find out more.