The National Research Council (NRC) 2012 report Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative highlighted the need for “measuring progress toward resilience” and suggested the adoption of a “uniform . . . resilience scorecard” (NRC, 2012). In the years since that report was published, research has evolved from a uniform strategy for measuring resilience toward a portfolio of measurement tools that can more accurately assess a community’s unique risk profile, assets, needs, priorities, and social determinants. This tailored approach toward resilience measurement is aimed at facilitating a more realistic assessment of a community’s baseline conditions, as well as a more feasible set of desired outcomes and, in turn, a selection of measures that more accurately captures progress toward achieving resilience goals.
Charge 5 of this study’s Statement of Task (see Box 1-2) focuses on identifying common approaches to measuring community resilience and ways to overcome challenges related to those approaches. Based on the findings of Chapters 2 and 3, this chapter addresses that charge by outlining four actions that communities can use to ensure that their resilience programs and measurement work align with their resilience priorities and achieve their resilience goals (see findings and recommendations in Box 4-1).
During the community site visits, local stakeholders expressed uncertainty about what they should measure, what measures to use, or even how to start the resilience-building process. The large number of resilience measurement efforts available (Chapter 2) and the paucity of use of those tools (Finding 3.1) reveal a gap between research on and the implementation of resilience measures. This chapter provides four key actions that communities can take to bridge this gap and help them move from building resilience to measuring it. Communities should:
- Build community engagement and buy-in,
- Account for communities’ multiple dimensions,
- Link community resilience measures to decision making, and
- Create incentives for measuring resilience.
Community engagement and buy-in are critical for establishing resilience goals and priorities (Finding 3.4). Some of the major functions of the community engagement process are to set resilience goals, prioritize those goals, and identify community leaders to champion resilience and implement actions aimed at meeting those goals. Community engagement also builds and strengthens social capital.
Models of Community Engagement
The International Association of Public Participation defined several levels of community engagement—from a nonbinding, passive level of obtaining feedback to full empowerment where decision making lies solely in the hands of a community (IAP2, 2000). Other known models of community engagement have also been documented. For example, Minkler and Wallerstein (2008) outlined principles of community-based participatory research, several of which apply to measuring community resilience such as the notion that the community is the unit of analysis and participatory decision making is an iterative, cyclical process that supports the overall goal of building long-term resilience. However, when these original community-based participatory research principles published by Minkler and Wallerstein (2008) were applied post-Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, the impact of the disaster, often exacerbated by concomitant chronic stressors such as historic burdens of health disparities, was shown to decrease a community’s capacity to maximally engage even years later (Lichtveld et al., 2016). Citizen-engaged science (Finn and O’Fallon, 2017) has as its hallmark the use of community-generated data and information and may also be a useful strategy to measuring community resilience.
Community engagement is important in developing feasible goals and setting realistic priorities. For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s 2016 Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems relies on a collaborative planning team representing the interest of all public and private stakeholders in the community to explicitly use priority setting and resource allocation as the basis for its approach for community resilience planning. It is also important to work with community members to determine milestones that are sensible for the community’s needs and context and to link measures to those milestones that will help track that progress accordingly. Setting resilience goals and priorities is necessary before any measurement activities take place. They provide the basis against which progress can be tracked and success can be gauged.
An important element of community engagement and buy-in is to identify community leaders who will champion resilience, implement resilience goals, and coordinate resilience measurement. The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative, for example, places strong emphasis on leadership. In each of the designated resilient cities, the 100 Resilient Cities grant supports a full-time chief resilience officer who is tasked with carrying out and leading the community’s resilience efforts, serving as a focal point for cross-sector collaboration and community-engaged monitoring of implementing priorities and achieving goals (see Box 4-2). The 100 Resilient Cities model (Arup, 2015) for centralized leadership has inspired many cities, counties, regions, and private organizations to
create a chief resilience officer–type position. For example, Charleston, SC—not one of the 100 Resilient Cities—created and self-funded such a position in the mayor’s office to carry out its resilience work and activities (Darlington, 2017).
Whether the leader is formally selected as a chief resilience officer or a similar position, communities can designate resilience leaders from within to implement measurement efforts, including tracking and monitoring community resilience progress. In addition to designated resilience leaders, trained community leaders can provide guidance to more efficiently link resilience measurement with community priorities. Leaders can facilitate the use of resilience measurement in community design, policy, and program development to track progress toward meeting those priorities. For example, in the Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience Project (Plough et al., 2013; Wells et al., 2013; Williams et al., 2018), local neighborhood coalitions were trained in various aspects of building and measuring resilience capacity, including the use of tabletop and other evaluative exercises (Chandra et al., 2015).
Community engagement is the first step in building and measuring community resilience. An engaged community, supported by a trained community leader, can set feasible goals, identify realistic priorities, and implement a tailored set of measures to assess progress toward sustainable resilience.
Resilience is multidimensional, cutting across multiple community capitals (Finding 3.5). Six community capitals or dimensions—natural (or environmental), built (infrastructure), financial (economic), social, human and cultural, and political (institutional or governance)—are relevant to a community’s ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events. The need for and benefits of including multiple dimensions of a community in resilience actions are well documented (see Chapter 2). The measurement of resilience should reflect multidimensionality in terms of data collection, analysis, integration, translation, and dissemination.
A community’s capacity to use a multidimensional approach depends on the expertise of its stakeholders and the diversity of the community members engaged in the resilience process. Academic partners can play an important role in the data collection and analysis related to community resilience. For example, in New Orleans, the city’s Department of Health partnered with Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine’s Disaster Management Program to strengthen its disaster response workforce capacity, hire competent leaders specialized in disaster management, strengthen the implementation of the city’s special needs registry, and advance its disaster communication enterprise.
Community leaders and the literature extol the value and import of multidimensional approaches to community resilience, but they acknowledge that measuring or collecting data across multiple dimensions is daunting. Typically, community programs and policies account for one capital (e.g., built/infrastructure) and/or peril (e.g., flood risk) at a time, which makes it difficult to characterize or measure resilience across the different community dimensions. Most often, community resilience efforts emphasize built capital such as buildings, roadways, communication infrastructure, and utilities (Aldrich, 2012; Aldrich and Meyer, 2015).
The human and social dimensions of community resilience—such as the strength of social networks, the efficiency and effectiveness of governance, and social capital—are well-established elements of resilience, but are rarely assessed and measured in ways that align and complement the data collected in the built or natural dimensions (Aldrich and Meyer, 2015; Varda, 2011). Public health data are an important exception. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as many state and local health departments collect and analyze data to assess provision of essential public health services. Essential public health services focus on assessment (e.g., monitor health, diagnose, and investigate), policy development (e.g., inform, educate, and empower; mobilize community partnerships; develop policies); and assurance (e.g., enforce laws, link to/provide care, assure competent workforce, evaluate) (CDC, 2017).
The good news is that there are options to better integrate information across this variety of existing data sources and community capitals. Disaster management and emergency preparedness data sets from federal agencies can provide a
wealth of information for the measurement of resilience. Many federal government programs require some type of application process and indicators of success or desired outcomes (e.g., the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and Public Assistance Grant Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grants, and the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan Assistance). Such outcomes could align with resilience goals or priorities. Criteria and information gathered in these application processes, especially the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s community rating system, could also be used in a community resilience function. If information from these programs were linked with each other and to community resilience priorities, it could reveal the status of a community’s resilience capacity in terms of a broader range of stresses such as economic difficulties, housing shortages or homelessness, slow moving impacts of climate change, or even the legacy effects of community or historical trauma.
Finding 4.1. Relevant information or data from disparate programs could be linked with each other and to community resilience priorities to position resilience in the context of existing efforts and priorities.
Information about resilience capacities and capabilities should inform policy formulation and implementation and choices about public sector budgets and public-private financing. Most local governments conduct community assessments to inform local decision-making; the challenge is to more fully embed resilience measurement in that process. Building from assessments already occurring at the community level creates opportunities to generate measures in multiple capitals. Policy makers and other stakeholders faced with making challenging trade-offs regarding human and financial resource investments need integrated data and information related to both acute and chronic stressors encountered by communities (Hall et al., 2012).
Data and information can be integrated across the multiple community dimensions through stronger connections with community goals and plans (e.g., community business plans and disaster preparedness plans) (Godschalk et al., 1998; NIST, 2016). For example, linking existing land use planning regulations, building codes, or standards with community goals could show ways that existing data could be used for different, useful purposes (Chandra et al., 2011; NIST, 2016). Such alignment would further connect the structural, social, and natural systems that underlie a community’s functions (Fung and Helgeson, 2017) in ways that would allow single actions to provide positive results in more than one capital, policy, or program dimension.
Rodin (2014) refers to multiple benefits as the “resilience dividend,” and the National Institute of Standards and Technology provides an expanded version of
the concept (see Box 4-3). A conceptual model, called the Resilience Dividend Valuation Model (Bond et al., 2017a,b), calculates the resilience dividend. The model supports decision makers who wish to quantify the value of resilience investments through a framework of costs, benefits, and co-benefits (see Box 4-4). The valuation model was developed with prior case examples and is starting to be implemented in other contexts (Bond et al., 2017a).
Resilience is premised on the idea that investments consider choices and tradeoffs that account for a range of stressors and short- and long-term gains (Bond et al., 2017a,b) and that those gains can be tracked along or across multiple sectors. For example, meeting the affordable housing needs of a community with buildings that can withstand hazard events and allow residents to shelter in place can mitigate chronic housing challenges, reduce post-event demand for shelters, and/or accelerate the availability of a local workforce. Community resilience measurement needs to include a range of downstream or cascading impacts of investment choices to capture the broadest range of multiple benefits. Downstream effects can be ascertained through longitudinal assessment, since resilience investments may produce returns and co-benefits that are valuable to the community over time. Valuation models, such as the Resilience Dividend Valuation Model framework, account for iterative steps, involve adaptive interventions, show potential for long-term evaluation or measurement, and demonstrate ways to link data with decision making.
Finding 4.2. Investments should consider choices and tradeoffs that account for a range of stressors and short- and long-term gains, and those gains can be tracked along or across multiple sectors.
A formidable challenge in measuring resilience is that, on the surface, there are few incentives to do so. However, there are tangible benefits to building resilience, and measurement connects resilience actions to their dividends. Some communities are beginning to use novel approaches to incentivize resilience investments or demonstrate multiple benefits from resilience actions.
Risk reduction can be financed for resilience building, pre- or post-disaster. These financing options require quantitative measures of resilience because investors (public or private) often demand estimated returns prior to making their investments. These tools and measures focus on economic impacts as well as sometimes focusing on building economic and ecological resilience. Box 4-5
provides an example of the co-benefits of the Coastal Zone Management Trust for coral reefs in Mexico (Beck et al., 2018).
Currently, impact investing is at the forefront of the growing trend toward attracting private investment to conservation and other social benefits, and represents the largest class of investments that can support resilience building (Colgan, Beck, and Narayan, 2017). Impact investing refers to investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the expectation that these investments will achieve social and environmental impacts as well as financial returns (GIIN, n.d.).
Green bonds, an example of impact investing, are financing options that aim to deliver environmental and financial benefits. The largest type of green bonds support projects designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit repercussions from climate change (CSG and MCBE, 2016; World Economic Forum, 2013). Green bonds, and impact bonds in general, have created significant pools of capital because they are well suited to the needs of certain types of investors who are looking for long-term, steady, and relatively low-risk investments (CSG and MCBE, 2016; The Economist, 2013).
Green bonds represent a form of investment in resilience building because they seek to reduce long-term climate risk. To become more widespread, green bonds need two core conditions: (1) a revenue source to repay bond buyers and
(2) a set of performance standards to demonstrate attainment of risk reduction goals (Colgan, Beck, and Narayan, 2017). These performance standards require quantitative measurement, which can help create the incentives required for better measures of resilience—this means that new resilience financing can become available if its benefits can be quantitatively measured.
Another type of financial tool is a catastrophe bond, an insurance-linked security created for a specific place and a well-defined set of risks over a specific period of time, such as hurricane-related wind damage for a given hurricane season or seasons (Nowak and Romaniuk, 2013). The bond can be issued by any entity, including governments or private organizations. The bond buyer is paid a defined sum over the period of the bond; the interest payments on the bond are the equivalent of insurance premiums. The bond’s proceeds are put in escrow for the term of the bond (usually 3 to 5 years), and if the pre-defined events occur, the bond is paid out. If the defined events do not occur, the bond proceeds are returned at the end of the term to the buyer (Alvarez, 2017; Jarzabkowski, Bednarek, and Spee, 2017).
An emerging idea is to create resilience bonds that use the differences in bond prices between the catastrophe bonds that are priced with specific risk-mitigating actions in place and those priced without such actions in place. These actions can be tasks or efforts related to community-resilience goals, programs, or policies. The savings from risk reduction would be reflected in the prices of catastrophe bonds, and those savings can then be diverted into risk-reducing or community-resilience projects (Vajjhala and Rhodes, 2015). The resilience bond concept is one example of an incentive for catastrophe bond buyers to divert a portion of the proceeds to meeting community resilience goals.
Finding 4.3. Financial tools can support resilience building and measurement. New financial tools can support resilience building. These tools require (and thus incentivize) quantitative measures of resilience to track their effectiveness. Some of this operationalizing is already under way, as experts in the finance sector now parameterize resilience benefits as a basis of innovative financial tools from bonds to insurance.
Finding 4.4. Measuring multiple benefits of community resilience investments can be connected to existing financial and insurance structures because they require and incentivize quantitative measures of resilience.
There are many measurement tools, but none of them is a silver bullet for community resilience measurement (Chapter 2). Each community’s pathway toward resilience is unique—there is no one-size-fits-all for building community resilience (Chapter 3). The measures that a community uses depend on the community’s goals, and it is up to each community to figure out how to track or
measure whether it is reaching its goals or how close it is at a given point in time. Resilience building does not equal the use of a specific measurement tool or set of resilience measurements. Rather, resilience building is a process that requires periodic measurement to assess progress toward resilience goals and ensure those goals are being met. This chapter presented four key actions that are needed for community resilience designs to result in measurable, achievable results. From these actions, the committee provides four recommendations that communities could follow to track and measure their resilience efforts.
Recommendation 1. Communities should use community participation and engagement at the outset of their resilience building and measurement efforts. Within a community, it is important to engage diverse stakeholders to identify and support leadership, data collection, and integration to track resilience measurements. The participatory process can facilitate goal setting and prioritization for community resilience, generate community buy-in for the goals and approaches, and identify people within the community who can be leaders, champions, implementers, or trainers. It also helps build and strengthen social capital within the community.
Recommendation 2. Communities should design and measure resilience around multiple dimensions of a community. Communities are comprised of multiple dimensions, most commonly captured by six capitals: natural, economic/financial, physical/built, social, human, and political. These capitals provide structure for setting community resilience goals and a reference for measurements that reflect progress toward communities’ achievements.
Recommendation 3. Communities should ensure that the data collected, integrated, or synthesized for community resilience are relatable and usable for decision making. The data collected, integrated, or synthesized need to be relatable, usable, and ultimately used to make decisions or gauge the efficacy or progress of the communities’ goals.
Recommendation 4. Communities should incentivize the measurement of resilience. Investments required to achieve community resilience goals should yield multiple benefits that are trackable along and across the relevant community capitals and with milestones over time.
It was clear to the committee through its community visits that communities are aware that they spend precious resources on collecting information in the different capitals and understand the importance of the four above actions in resilience design and measurement. But also emerging from the visits was a knowledge-to-action gap for building and measuring community resilience in
governing organizations. Gaps remain in the application and implementation of comprehensive strategies for community resilience, and in linking goals and objectives with identification, planning, and assessment for one or a small set of risks. Communities can exercise at least two options to fill these gaps. One is for communities to have stronger connections among themselves to foster learning and exchange. Another is to position community decision makers alongside researchers in longitudinal research efforts that integrate research, data collection and assessment, and decision making with community resilience goals and priorities. Specific recommendations for the Gulf Research Program to fill the knowledge-to-action gap are outlined in Chapter 5.