implementation, assessment, learning, and program adjustment. The systematic use of an adaptive-management approach can improve programs continually and shed light on best practices and strategies for achieving resilience objectives.


Focus on research and related activities that produce comparable nationwide data on both vulnerability and resilience.


Various approaches are being used to assess the nation’s vulnerability to disasters and other hazards. HAZUS and HAZUS-MH,1 for example, are widely used vulnerability-assessment tools. Since its inception, DHS has been engaged in diverse activities involving multiple programs and directorates to quantify risks to the nation’s critical infrastructure and to compare risk and vulnerability in U.S. communities. Researchers have developed various measures of social vulnerability; the most widely recognized is the Social Vulnerability Index (SOVI),2 developed by Susan Cutter and other researchers at the University of South Carolina. Activities are also under way to assess community resilience with various measures.

Despite the progress made in those and related fields, the nation lacks an agreed-on set of vulnerability and resilience indicators that would make it possible to measure and assess them in communities and over time. Without such measures, it will be impossible to gauge progress in efforts to improve resilience or to compare community progress. That need has been recognized in the past and, with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), hazard and disaster researchers met at a workshop in June 2008 and developed a plan and set of research recommendations for the development of a Resiliency and Vulnerability Observatory Network, or RAVON (Peacock et al., 2008). The goal of RAVON would be to systematize the collection, retention, and dissemination of data that are relevant to the measurement of vulnerability and resilience. It would incorporate other key indicators, such as those related to risk assessment, perception, and management; hazard mitigation; and disaster recovery and reconstruction. As envisioned by the 2008 workshop participants, RAVON would combine the best elements of virtual and place-based activities and research–practitioner collaboration and would borrow elements of similar existing activities, such as the Long Term Ecological Research Network3 (LTER) and the National Ecological Observatory Network4 (NEON).5

To understand the extent to which the nation is moving toward a more resilient and less vulnerable future, and to understand the factors affecting that movement, reliable, valid, and

1

See www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/hazus/ (accessed July 1, 2010).

2

See webra.cas.sc.edu/hvri/products/sovi.aspx (accessed July 1, 2010).

3

See www.lternet.edu/ (accessed July 1, 2010).

4

See www.neoninc.org/ (accessed July 1, 2010).

5

For more detailed discussions of the proposed RAVON activities and organizational structure, see Peacock et al. (2008).



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