Community Advocate

Discover how to use technology to advocate for the most vulnerable communities.

Conversations, field visit observations, and extensive research on the limitations of current disaster response methods, showed our research team that geographically and socially vulnerable communities still do not receive the adequate support or aid needed for equitable and resilient recovery. We are bridging this gap to ensure that emergency management strategies are prioritizing and meeting the needs of these communities.

About the Project

This project is a joint effort by students and faculty within the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at the University of Michigan and the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) as a Capstone project for the Winter 2022 semester. Using Hurricane Ida and the Greater New Orleans Area as a case study we worked to add technology to disaster response. We collected images of damaged homes to train a machine learning model during the visit and met with individuals like Tab Troxler, the St. Charles Parish Assessor, who hosts thousands of relevant disaster images for our project. In talking with professionals and organizations on the ground, we confirmed our goals of adding local knowledge and context to our machine learning tool.

We're creating disaster preparedness and response methods that leverage the assets and relationships found within local communities.

Through community asset mapping, network analyses, and disaster vulnerability assessments, we’ve identified strategies to provide opportunities for community members and local organizations to have a role in setting disaster management goals and sharing local knowledge for equitable and resilient disaster recovery.

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We’re exploring how social vulnerability can be integrated into damage assessment technologies.

Damage assessment models and technologies have the power to inform where emergency aid is distributed immediately after a disaster hits. Currently, these technologies focus solely on structural damage which often removes damage assessment metrics from the local context. Therefore, we are incorporating disaster vulnerability assessments within damage assessment technologies to ensure accurate and equitable aid distribution prioritization.

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We're revolutionizing damage assessment.

During a disaster, the most vulnerable communities are often disconnected from the decisions and processes that impact their ability to recover and strengthen their resiliency. Our innovative tools consider how planners, community organizers, and nonprofit leaders can work together to accurately assess community needs and coordinate equitable emergency response using state of the art data and technologies.

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Our Projects