Geography: An Essential Foundation for a City’s Resilience Strategy

Today’s mayors need to be efficient geographers – who combine social, economic, and environmental information about the places that they were elected to manage. When a mayor or city council makes critical decisions, they can affect millions of citizens in their jurisdiction and the surrounding region.  The resilience strategy of a city administration today could determine a city’s economic viability in years to come.

So, how do city governments of the present start moving towards developing and implementing a resilience strategy for the future?  Through integration of authoritative data, citizen-derived information, and other data sources such as the Esri Living Atlas, as inputs to understand, plan and manage the urban environment at the human scale.  A geographic information system (GIS) enables the city government and citizens alike to integrate this information by location (neighborhood, watershed, ward, etc.) and see patterns, trends, and clusters of activities that impact the resiliency of the city.

With a GIS, one can understand the development of the city since its settlement, and model the future trends of its development.  From planning access to healthcare to calculating the costs of deferred maintenance of aging infrastructure, it all happens somewhere.  Some resilience challenges identified by the 100 Resilience Cities program will need solutions that enable complex analyses of demographic information – such as finding ways to provide services to an aging population; or network analysis to make multi-modal public transportation a reality.  Esri is proud to be a Platform Partner of the 100 Resilient Cities program and to work with cities to establish a robust GIS platform with configurable solutions and templates that tackle these resilience challenges.

Let’s consider one challenge facing many cities – flooding.  Many cities were developed along rivers, lakes, and coastlines for two basic reasons: economics and sustainability.  Increased opportunities for commerce and fishing provided citizens along these waterways a (geographic) advantage over remote communities.  Now, effective management of these same waterbodies may provide one of the greatest challenges of all.  More intense natural disasters bring catastrophic flooding and climate change will result in sea-level rise that may dramatically change the urban settlement patterns found today.  You can explore ArcGIS for Floods to learn more about flood management solutions.

GIS has such a broad variety of use and fosters collaboration, dissemination of open data, and most recently – the ability to create a Hub where various resilience initiatives can be highlighted and engage citizens to take actions toward resilience. You can explore more opportunities for applying geography to create a more resilient community here and to promote green infrastructure in your city along the way.  In summary, a GIS is a foundational platform for resilience planning and implementation.  The time has come for your elected officials to know much about geography!

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