Building resilient coastal cities through smart and connected communities
Lead PI:
Nancy Grimm

Coastal communities are particularly vulnerable to increased risk from sea-level rise and coastal, riverine, and urban flooding. An aging urban infrastructure is proving inadequate for protecting communities from the impacts of these events. Disasters make evident that failures take place not just in the built infrastructure, but also in the information infrastructure that engineers and decision-makers use to prepare and respond. Limitations in information and data systems constrain the ability of cities to learn, adapt, and reduce the vulnerability of their populations to various extreme events. Civic leaders, data scientists, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations increasingly are interested in using "smart city" technologies to optimize city operations; however, their effectiveness depends on multiple technological, cognitive, social, and institutional factors. This SCC Planning Grant will be used to design a research program that advances understanding of the socio-political, ecological, and technological conditions for S&CC that promote coastal resilience and transformation. The team will nurture new, integrative, and interdisciplinary research collaborations, develop research capacity-building activities, and undertake meaningful community engagement in the coastal communities of Miami, San Juan, and Baltimore. Collectively, these coastal communities cover a population of more than a million people that will benefit from this project. Specific objectives are to: 1) develop a diverse research community to advance fundamental understanding of smart and connected communities; 2) engage multiple practitioners and stakeholders to contribute to planning and establishing direction of the research program; and 3) develop and foster research-practitioner interactions and research capacity through Innovation Webinars, Dialogues, and Labs.

The overall strategy of this SCC Planning Grant consists of bringing together small groups of researchers, subject matter experts, and community stakeholders in a variety of innovative and collaborative activities in each of three coastal cities: Miami, San Juan, and Baltimore. A transdisciplinary team will be assembled that encompasses social science, natural science, and engineering fields, including risk communication, science and technology studies, data and computation science, and communication. Data resources and outputs from the three coastal cities will be used to advance fundamental understanding of smart and connected communities from a social-ecological-technological systems approach. Innovative tools for virtual communication, data sharing, idea nurturing, and product generation will facilitate interaction and underpin communication. Strategies for maximizing participation of students and early-career scientists in each city will be employed to enhance their research capacities on social and technical aspects of the cities' information and technology needs. Researchers and communities will co-develop a vision for an integrated research program for a smart city framework of the future that includes: 1) advances in theories of knowledge co-production by examining social practices that institutions use to produce, share, and use information for envisioning and implementing strategies in their communities; 2) novel methodologies for collecting, managing, analyzing, and visualizing more diverse data to assist communities in exploring their resilience and envisioning sustainable futures from an integrative perspective; 3) understanding of the social, political, ecological, and ethical implications of smart and connected technologies; and, 4) new approaches in the modeling and design of complex infrastructures that take into account the dynamic nature of climate systems and cities.

Nancy Grimm
NANCY B. GRIMM is an ecosystem ecologist who studies the interactions of climate change, human activities, resilience, and biogeochemical processes in urban and stream ecosystems. In the urban realm, Grimm was founding director of the Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research program and co-directed the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network from 2015–2022. She now co-directs the international network of networks, NATURA (NATure-based solutions for Urban Resilience in the Anthropocene) and the graduate scholars network, Earth Systems Science for the Anthropocene (ESSA). Professor Grimm’s collaborative research in urban social-ecological-technological systems (SETS) centers on nature-based, technological, and governance solutions that can build resilience to a future with increased frequency and magnitude of extreme events. In streams, Grimm and her students and colleagues study how hydrologic and climatic variability influence ecosystem processes such as stream metabolism and nutrient dynamics, and more recently, the impacts of a novel desert disturbance (wildfire) on stream processes through hydrologic connectivity of upland to stream-riparian corridor. Along with her colleagues and students, Grimm has made >200 contributions to the scientific literature. Professor Grimm is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the Ecological Society of America, the Society for Freshwater Science. She is a past president of the Ecological Society of America and the North American Benthological Society (now Society for Freshwater Science), past program director for the U.S. National Science Foundation and senior scientist for the U.S. Global Change Research Program. She was lead author for two chapters of the third U.S. National Climate Assessment (2014), member of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Committee to Advise the U.S. Global Change Research Program, member of the Advisory Committee for the Australian CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, and Editor for the AGU journal, Earth’s Future, among many other editorial and advisory boards. Current service includes two NASEM committees and the International Scientific Committee for OneWater (France).
Performance Period: 09/01/2017 - 08/31/2020
Institution: Arizona State University
Award Number: 1737626