David Wild, an associate professor of informatics and computing at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, has been awarded a Research and Evaluation grant award from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to build tools and develop methods for analysis that will help economic developers build communities that are more disaster resilient through the use of historical disaster data.
The project, which includes partnerships with the City of Bloomington and other local, state, and national agencies, will help communities become more resilient to increasingly frequent and severe disasters. It also supports IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute, a Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative that is finding ways to help Hoosiers prepare for extreme weather.
“I am passionate about using technology to help in times of crisis,” Wild said. “As the number and severity of disasters increases due to extreme weather events and vulnerable infrastructure, our normal response and recovery processes cannot scale. We need technology to help us adapt, and I am excited to get the chance to make an impact at local, state, and federal levels.”
The project, which was awarded a grant of more than $650,000, stems from a previous collaboration between SICE and the Kelley School of Businesses’ Indiana Business Research Center, also funded by the EDA, which aimed to build models and analytic tools that enable the creation of development strategies and policies tailored to a region’s characteristics and capacities. That effort also expanded theory about regional economic development to include more comprehensive data and a diverse array of academic disciplines. Wild served as a co-principal investigator of that project. Pilot work from the previous study, along with new federal data becoming available, will serve as the foundation for this partnership.
“We will be integrating data on disaster recovery funding with public data related to disaster resilience and historical risk for natural disasters, and making it available in a predictive platform called Analysis Platform for Risk, Resilience, and Expenditures in Disasters (APRED) that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify the best use of resources” Wild said. “This platform will help local and state economic developers, as well as federal agencies such as the EDA, make more data-driven decisions in the future about how to use funds to help communities recover from disasters and be more prepared for the next one.”
The research will contribute to the development of the Hoosier Resilience Index, which is a tool designed to help local governments in Indiana understand their communities’ economic resilience and vulnerabilities and readiness for more heat waves, heavy precipitation, and other extreme weather events.
“Mayors, county commissioners, and town councils need help identifying feasible and cost-effective solutions to climate disasters, which are becoming more prevalent and more severe in the Midwest,” said Andrea Webster, implementation manager at the Environmental Resilience Institute. “The Environmental Resilience Institute is especially excited about this research because it aligns with and will contribute to the development of the Hoosier Resilience Index. Using this tool, local governments will be able to prioritize action steps within their competitive budgets to increase community-wide resilience.”