Attitudes and Trust in Leveraging Integrated Sociotechnical Systems for Enhancing Community Adaptive Capacity

Attitudes and Trust in Leveraging Integrated Sociotechnical Systems for Enhancing Community Adaptive Capacity – Phase IV

Principal Investigator: Cynthia Chen, Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
​Co-Principal Investigator: Daniel Abramson, Associate Professor, Department of Urban Design and Planning
Project Duration: 12 months
​Project Budget (Federal UTC Funds): $220,000
Project Budget (Cost-share): $110,000
Institution: University of Washington

Historically, disaster preparedness efforts have focused on hardening physical infrastructure and encouraging stockpiling of resources within individual households. More recently, community social infrastructure – shared spaces and local organizations that support community life – and strong social networks have been recognized for their importance in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. However, despite this potential, community organizations and other forms of social infrastructure are not necessarily involved in disaster preparedness efforts, nor is the building of community social networks addressed in standard, top-down approaches to preparedness. Social capital, mobilized via social ties, and social infrastructure can serve as a kind of “backup” for physical infrastructure when it fails. As managers, shapers and regulators of public space, planners have an important role to play in strengthening the state of community social infrastructure. This study is situated in a dialogue that draws from literature in three areas: 1) the role of social ties and social capital in disaster preparedness and response; 2) the potential role of social infrastructure in disaster scenarios; and 3) the integration of urban planning and hazard mitigation planning. The primary research question explores the potential for resource matching at the local level – how can social ties and social infrastructure help to meet community members’ essential needs in a disaster scenario? To answer this question, we investigate patterns related to resource needs and anticipated resource-seeking behavior across three communities. Situated in Washington State, this study is focused on a potential earthquake scenario such as a magnitude 9.0 Cascadia Subduction Zone event, which would cause significant disruption to conventional modes of resource access and leave communities dependent upon local resources. We approach community disaster preparedness planning from a resource-matching perspective, by understanding what resources people might need and how they expect to access them in the case of a disaster. Using data gathered from a sample survey conducted in three Washington State communities, we explore respondents’ expectations regarding where they might turn to meet essential needs in a disaster. We find that while preparedness with specific resources varies between communities, common trends in resource seeking can be identified, with a strong anticipated reliance on social ties and stores.

Research Products and Implementation

Scope of Work

​Final Report