Collaborative Research: Evaluating the Potential for Urban Resilience Planning to Mitigate Long-term Flood Risks
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Costs from flooding continue to rise because of the isolation in most communities of hazard mitigation planning from land use planning processes. Resilience planning that recognizes the interdependencies between disasters and the constant stressors cities face, such as poverty, aging infrastructure, and social inequity, has emerged as a new framework to coordinate flood mitigation and planning. This project examines how resilience is translated into practice, whether it fosters collaboration across city departments and stakeholders, and if this collaboration leads to more integrative plans that reduce vulnerability to flooding. New knowledge will be acquired regarding how resilience planning shapes urban governance at a time when flooding poses an increasingly serious threat for communities. This scientific research contribution thus supports NSF''s mission to promote the progress of science and to advance our national welfare. In this case, the benefits will be insights for local practitioners about the governance of resilience efforts and for federal, state, and non-profit officials on how to foster local resilience. The project will educate future resilience planning professionals through the development and implementation of educational case studies and participation of graduate students throughout the research process. By combining surveys, interviews, social network analysis, and plan evaluation in four cities at the forefront of resilience planning, this study provides critical and timely information about the governance structures and planning processes that address long-term flood risk. Specifically, the objectives of this study are to: (1) examine how public, private, and community actors who are engaged in flood mitigation efforts interpret and operationalize the concept of resilience; (2) characterize inter-organizational connectivity around flood resilience planning by analyzing urban governance networks with social network analysis; (3) assess and compare the quality, consistency, and level of integration among different types of city plans that impact flooding; and (4) evaluate the influence of different conceptualizations of resilience and governance network structures on cities? plans and policies. The project will combine social network analysis with assessment of plan quality and integration. By comparing plan quality and integration with measures of network collaboration, results will address the widely cited claim that collaboration leads to better and more integrated plans that are more likely to reduce flood damages. This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.