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Collaborative RAPID Funded Project Proposal: Building Infrastructure to Prevent Disasters like Hurricane Maria

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Created: Dec 11, 2017 at 11:17 p.m.
Last updated: Apr 11, 2019 at 7:50 p.m.
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Overview: There is urgent need to characterize the severely impaired water resources and distribution systems in Puerto Rico and inform the community about how they can protect themselves against hazards in their water. The situation is also an important opportunity to engage the public in collecting samples and create a rich dataset to not only better understand the impacts of Hurricane Maria, but build preparedness towards future water crises. Hurricane Maria may be one of the most complex disasters in human history - we need to have all available data strategically archived and integrated for use in further research. In this moment in time, in this one special place, the uncertainties and stress of where to find clean drinking water and how to restore basic services is beyond human comprehension. The current situation has been generated by a unique culmination of pre-existing conditions, natural disaster, disaster response, and lack of infrastructure. The current widespread disruption of drinking water distribution systems in Puerto Rico may pose risks to human health, but there is no existing digital infrastructure to scientifically determine the impacts of baseline environmental conditions, the hurricane event, and response to the crisis within a framework of understanding impacts to population health. We propose to provide drinking water test kits and analyze for biological, inorganic chemicals, and organic compounds. One month after Hurricane Maria, elementary questions on how to provide needed water quantity and quality and how to support basic human health care cannot be answered. With this project funding, we can soon archive and make accessible data on environmental variables unique to Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria, unique damage caused by the storm (lack of electricity, blocked transportation corridors), and begin to address time sensitive needs of victims limited by the natural water resources of the island.

Intellectual Merit: Hurricane, environmental, water quality and health data integrated in one infrastructure system will be a resource for researchers to examine all aspects of how natural-human coupled systems respond to extreme weather events. We will have a unique dataset to allow us to generate testable hypotheses on how the severity of a hazard to human health and well-being is related to the sophistication, connectivity, and operations of the physical and digital infrastructure systems. In the short term, we plan to test the design of an integrated cyberinfrastructure system to increase the accessibility of environmental and health data for understanding the impacts from hurricane-related natural disasters. Conceptually, it is well understood that the severity of the disaster is a function of the sophistication of the physical and digital infrastructure. This work will develop a prototype of a synthesized system to advance our understanding of how infrastructure and data-driven information can reduce the impacts of natural disaster, and serve as a platform for future research.

Broader Impacts: Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey are high profile events that have had catastrophic societal impacts. This will be a community-led activity coordinated through CUAHSI to ensure that the data are assembled to be broadly accessible to the research community. Research that deepens our understanding of these events, which will be greatly facilitated by the assembled data, will have broad impact in not only the affected areas but also in other parts of the country subject to hurricane flooding. CUAHSI membership includes over includes over 130 institutions and having this information centrally available through CUAHSI data services would provide a common point of access, in a consistent and documented format, with tools already developed. This will facilitate readiness in advance of disasters, to prepare to collect post-disaster data, as well as facilitate broad and unanticipated use of this data when it is available and easily accessible for research on HydroShare. This RAPID grant targeted at Maria, will expand our capacity to understand and support communities around the world who need to develop information collection and sharing infrastructure towards fostering self-resiliency.

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Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
National Science Foundation 1810886


People or Organizations that contributed technically, materially, financially, or provided general support for the creation of the resource's content but are not considered authors.

Name Organization Address Phone Author Identifiers
William McDowell
Eric Hutton
Scott Dale Peckham University of Colorado, Boulder
Greg Tucker
Ray Idaszak RENCI, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill NC, US
David Tarboton Utah State University Utah, US 4357973172
Amber Spackman Jones Utah State University
Christopher Lenhardt RENCI
Kari Stephens University of Washington
Amy Pruden Virginia Tech

How to Cite

Bandaragoda, C., K. Pieper, W. Rhoads, J. Phuong, M. Leon, J. S. Horsburgh, S. Mooney, M. Edwards, E. Istanbulluoglu, J. Bales, L. McCready (2019). Collaborative RAPID Funded Project Proposal: Building Infrastructure to Prevent Disasters like Hurricane Maria, HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.


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