Resilience is the ability to bounce back after disaster. The ability to become strong and healthy again, perhaps even better than before anything happened. How does this apply to physical, social and economic disasters, current and future? And what are we doing to prepare, and become more resilient?
This week, Obama Administration announced a new "Smart Cities" Initiative dedicated to helping cities tackle their local problems, by investing over $ 160million in grants, federal research and collaborations with new technology developments.
But there is a group that goes further than providing funding and research. Their plan is to aid cities directly in the planning and preparation of cities to become even greater, stronger and more developed.
100 Resilient Cities is a non-profit organization supported by The Rockefeller Foundation. They work with cities all over the world, represented by each city's Chief Resilience Officer, to create and put in place a plan in response to the impact and traumas dealt to these cities. These plans are focused on not only providing immediate relief efforts in response to the shocks of natural disasters, but also the stresses that wear down a city over time; for example aging infrastructure and poor transportation systems to food and/or water shortages.
The organization strives to improve cities to be prepared for crisis, as well as to provide resources for them to fight off the ever increasing stresses, like poverty and crime, that weaken cities over time. With 67 cities already selected in the first and second rounds, it is no surprise that plans are already in motion.
Cities like Chennai, India are already developing coordinate disaster response plans. Being the 6th largest city in India, they have struggled with the aging infrastructure and population management for years. With the help of 100 Resilient Cities, Chennai is beginning to budget and prepare for natural disasters like the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, as well as allocate resources to manage and improve proper waste collection reducing the negative affects on the city when disaster strikes, and as an environmental concern.
Many other cities are working on the shocks and stresses that affect them with 100 Resilient Cities. Still, more are preparing proposals to collaborate with the organization. Regardless, the awareness of the need for urban resilience has increased dramatically and this is something our society has waited a long time for.