Researchers have developed the Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard (PIRS) to assist local practitioners to assess the degree to which networks of local plans target geographic areas most prone to hazards and evaluate the coordination of local plans.
Their research tested PIRS in six coastal communities and found that plans are not fully consistent and do not always address the areas in a community most vulnerable to floods or sea level risks; moreover, some plans actually increase physical and social vulnerability to hazards. For this project, the primary goal is to work directly with 4 to 5 local communities to refine the PIRS guidebook, training materials and plan scoring tool to ensure that they meet requirements of different communities that vary in capacity to anticipate and plan for future risks. Saving people from disasters isn’t just about heroic measures in emergency situations. It is also about prevention.
“We figured out a way to communicate the risks inherent in certain localities, directly to the vested stakeholders,” Dr. Berke said. “With that clear picture, stakeholders can make informed decisions about communities, investments and their shared future.”
Fragmentation and poor integration has led to siloes in which mitigation planning is isolated from other local planning sectors (land use, hazard mitigation, economic development, transportation). Hazard mitigation specialists have long been concerned about the implications of lack of integration of mitigation across local planning sectors, which can significantly compound future risks. Failure to coordinate integration of multiple planning activities that govern land use in hazard areas has become a national policy concern. The disconnect, in part, explains the geometrically increasing annual economic losses to disasters over the past five decades, which are expected to increase in the future due to continued development in hazardous areas and climate change.
To help reach their goals, city planners collaborated with Dr. Phil Berke, Jaimie Masterson, American Institute of Certified Planners, and their team from the Institute of Sustainable Communities at Texas A&M. As a project partner of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence (CRC), they are funded by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). This research project led to the Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard (PIRS), a novel planning approach that helps prevent people and investments from being in harm’s way, and ultimately save lives and resources.
The research team and local planners worked together using PIRS to improve the integration of disaster mitigation across the community’s network of plans, so they can better work together to reduce vulnerabilities to hazards. This is especially important in regards to plans that guide decision-making for construction and development in hazardous areas. Dr. Berke and his team’s “spatial analysis” methodology considers that an area’s topography has to be studied in conjunction with the civic goals, community vulnerabilities (both physical and social), and current and proposed investments and development priorities.
This planning tool enables communities to effectively reduce their vulnerabilities to hazards across their network of plans – including transportation, parks, economic development, hazard mitigation, emergency management and comprehensive land use.
How It Works
PIRS is user-friendly, and allows local practitioners (planners, emergency managers, engineers) to self-evaluate their community’s plans. The strategies can be precisely tailored to each community’s specific needs.
There are three phases within the scorecard process:
- Assemble all relevant community plans that guide development decisions in hazard areas by creating a digital map with overlapping layers where the plans are “stacked” one on top of the other.
- Evaluate and analyze the stacked map to identify geographic areas or populations that are most vulnerable.
- Score the different areas of the municipality based upon their level of hazard vulnerability and degree of integration of hazard mitigation methods.
Principal Investigator: Philip Berke