Creating smart and connected coastal communities

UREx SCC Award Image The Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network, led by ASU sustainability scientists Nancy Grimm and Chuck Redman, is among 38 recipients of the National Science Foundation's 2017 Smart & Connected Communities grant. The S&CC grant seeks to harness smart technologies for the enhancement of communities – in terms of economic opportunity and growth, safety and security, health and wellness, and overall quality of life. After observing how these technologies contribute to disaster relief – the social media fundraisers and re-build events after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and María, for example – UREx recognized an opportunity. That's why the network is using its award to develop a plan that will prepare three coastal cities – Miami, San Juan and Baltimore – for the increasing frequency and severity of storms using smart technologies. In doing so, it will benefit the lives of more than a million people. How does UREx plan to achieve this? To begin with, it will use visualization tools to examine how socio-political, ecological and technological factors – things that make a city smart and connected – contribute to resilience. It will also encourage collaborations, develop capacity-building activities like webinars and partake in meaningful community engagement within the participating cities. "We expect that developing cross-institutional interactions and mechanisms for knowledge exchange prior to disasters will have a considerable impact," says Co-Principal Investigator Tischa Muñoz-Erickson. "Ultimately, our goal is to help cities understand their vulnerabilities, then overcome them by getting more connected – to each other and to formal organizations." By helping these three cities become role models for others, UREx hopes coastal communities around the country and beyond will be more prepared should a hurricane make landfall on their shores.