Keeping Score with the University of Maryland’s Disaster Resource Center

More than 40 resilience experts from government, industry and academia put their heads together in mid-April for a two-day workshop at the University of Maryland Center for Disaster Resilience, with the goal of developing a national resilience scorecard. Sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology, the workshop featured representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others, who assessed the nation’s disaster health and vulnerability.

Organizers hope that a scorecard will drive public interest and foster change, as noted during the inaugural address by CEE Department Chair and Professor Charles Schwartz:

“Within the resilience domain, we are able to incorporate social, cultural, environmental and ecological concerns in discussions about infrastructure engineering research, land use, and building codes. We are joining together experts to raise public awareness and inform policymakers on how we can better understand and reduce the catastrophic effects of natural and manmade hazards. And, we are helping to draw big-picture solutions and open lines of communication that transcend bureaucratic barriers in order to provide decision-makers the information they need to plan for and respond to emergencies.”

Resilience scorecards also lay down a foundation for assessment over time, and the group hoped to create a national quantitative standard—something that currently doesn’t exist, despite the use of resilience scorecards across the country on national and local levels, according to a release from the University of Maryland.

Susan Cutter, University of South Carolina Professor and Director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, pointed out the need for resilience quantification. “Why should communities measure resilience?” she asked. “To understand the potential impacts of adverse events and to evaluate the capacity of a community to respond to, recover from, and adapt to such events.”


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