CSDMS 2018 annual meeting - Geoprocesses, geohazards

Social Vulnerability and Community Resilience to Natural Hazards: Models, Tools, and Practice

Susan Cutter

University of South Carolina, United States

This presentation provides an overview of two important concepts in natural hazards—social vulnerability and community resilience. Conceptually, vulnerability and resilience are related, but they are not the opposite extensions of one another. Instead they are driven by different questions: 1) what circumstances create the social burdens of risk and how do these affect the distribution of risks and losses (e.g. vulnerability); and 2) what enhances or reduces the ability of communities to prepare for, respond to, recover from, successfully adapt to, or anticipate hazard threats, and how does this vary geographically (resilience). In order to provide the scientific basis for hazard reduction policies and practices, measurement schemes for social vulnerability and community resilience are required. This presentation reviews an existing tool for measuring social vulnerability, the Social Vulnerability Index or SoVI®, which is widely used in the USA in both hazard mitigation planning and disaster recovery. Emerging metrics for monitoring community resilience are also described, beginning with the Baseline Resilience Indicators for Communities (or BRIC) Index. The spatial patterning and temporal variability in the indices as well as the importance of scale are described. Practical examples of how BRIC and SoVI have been used in the USA by emergency managers and hazards (spatial) planning are illustrated.

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Of interest for:
  • Terrestrial Working Group
  • Coastal Working Group
  • Hydrology Focus Research Group
  • Human Dimensions Focus Research Group