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The Resilience to Emergencies and Disasters Index

Applying big data to benchmark neighborhood resilience capacity

+ Constantine Kontokosta, Awais Malik


The Resilience to Emergencies and Disasters Index: Applying big data to benchmark and validate neighborhood resilience capacity

Sustainable Cities and Society

Volume 36, January 2018, Pages 272-285

Resilience planning and emergency management require policymakers and agency leaders to make difficult decisions regarding which at-risk populations should be given priority in the allocation of limited resources. Our work focuses on benchmarking neighborhood resilience by developing a unified, multi-factor index of local and regional resilience capacity: the Resilience to Emergencies and Disasters Index (REDI). The strength of the REDI methodology is the integration of measures of physical, natural, and social systems – operationalized through the collection and analysis of large-scale, heterogeneous, and high resolution urban data – to classify and rank the relative resilience capacity embedded in localized urban systems. Feature selection methodologies are discussed to justify the selection of included indicator variables. Hurricane Sandy is used to validate the REDI scores by measuring the recovery periods for neighborhoods directly impacted by the storm. Using over 12,000,000 records for New York City’s 311 service request system, we develop a proxy for neighborhood activity, both pre- and post-event. Hurricane Sandy had a significant and immediate impact on neighborhoods classified as least resilient based on the calculated REDI scores, while the most resilient neighborhoods were shown to better withstand disruption to normal activity patterns and more quickly recover to pre-event functional capacity.


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Constantine E. Kontokosta, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning and Director of the Civic Analytics program at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management. He also directs the Urban Intelligence Lab and holds cross-appointments at the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and is affiliated faculty at the NYU Wagner School of Public Service.

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