Public Risk Interpretation and Community Resilience Planning: A Case Study in Aberdeen, Washington
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University of Washington Abstract PUBLIC RISK INTERPRETATION AND COMMUNITY RESILIENCE PLANNING: A CASE STUDY IN ABERDEEN, WASHINGTON Ashley Bennis Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Professor Marina Alberti Urban Design and Planning There has been little empirical study of how emergency planners, the public at large or even scientists from different disciplines understand and use various representations of hazards to communicate risk for disaster preparedness. Yet effective communication is the critical component that helps communities understand, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. One example of this is preparing for an earthquake and tsunami event. The most common way of talking about earthquake safety to the public has been through universal deterministic models that use crisp, clear lines to designate regions at differing degrees of risk. A community outreach workshop was conducted in the coastal city of Aberdeen, Washington to understand how individuals interpret and use hazard information for short and long term planning, using a new interactive mapping technology referred to as WeTable. Twelve residents attended and separated into groups that differed in the hazard map content they received (deterministic or probabilistic) and the planning context for their task (asset-based or hazard-based) with responses recorded to observe patterns. There were no significant differences in the deliberations of the groups associated with the hazard map content they received. However, context influenced group deliberations, with asset-based planning groups able to look past the initial realization of all their services being within the inundation zone to consider what their new normal might look like; whether that be completely rebuilding or establishing a new community on underused land, bordering other cities in the region. The notes from round three in each of the vulnerability-focused groups saw that the only mentioning of the long term was in contemplations of whether or not the city could, or should rebuild. Although this study can only provide limited qualitative insights, findings suggest that contrary to some fears, providing probabilistic information may not adversely affect planning. Findings also imply that future hazard mitigation and community planning efforts could be improved by using an asset-based approach to planning, in order to create risk-prepared, resilient communities. Additionally, the community would benefit from incorporating interactive technology, such as the WeTable, to help participants be more a part of the planning efforts in their cities.
- Urban planning