Resiliency built on foundation of data, report says

Resiliency built on foundation of data, report says

The economic cost of extreme-weather events in the U.S. is high, with about $1 billion in insured losses each year from hurricanes alone every year, according to a new report from the Office of Management and Budget.

The report focuses on how to build resilience into communities that face these weather events. Although innovations in the insurance market and public/private partnerships will help, one resource that could really build resiliency is better data, the report says.

“Decision makers across sectors and at all levels of government rely on accurate and precise economic data to analyze the costs and benefits of policies, programs, and projects,” the report reads. Accessible, discoverable, and usable data  “can uncover innovations in risk management that are currently obscured and drive defensible action that reduces disaster risks and costs.”

The problem is that there isn’t enough of this data, so the White House is taking steps to address the shortfall. The U.S. Geological Survey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Institute for Building Sciences and the Department of Housing and Urban Development all will be working in 2017 to provide more data to better understand resilience.

The U.S. Geological Survey, for example, will be working to leverage its streamflow data. FEMA will be improving its flood monitoring software. The National Institute for Building Sciences will be updating a 2005 study that outlines the benefits of hazard mitigation. And HUD  is expected to finalize requirements on energy benchmarking reporting for housing insured through the Federal Housing Administration.

“At every level of government and across the public and private sectors, we are striving to better define the current state of risk and quantify and monetize the benefits of improvements that increase resilience in ways that drive markets,” the report concludes.

Sea Bright, N.J., meanwhile, recently announced its own resiliency plan. After Superstorm Sandy devastated the city, local authorities realized the need for improved infrastructure. The city plans to update sewer, power and telecom infrastructure.

“We learned that no silver bullet can prepare us for any emergency,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), who represents Sea Bright. “But, with the public and private sectors working together, we can strive to make sure the citizens of Sea Bright and all of New Jersey are safer next time disaster strikes.”

Editor's note: This article was changed Dec. 29 to correct the name of the agency that issued the report.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a former reporter for GCN.

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