Sea Grant researchers apply new technology to help decision making for post-disaster recovery in Sarasota County
How to best redevelop after a storm? It’s a challenging question coastal communities must answer once basic order is restored after a storm catastrophe.
In Sarasota County, Florida, community leaders are getting ahead of the game. With Sea Grant funding, they will use an innovative visualization tool that combines a Nintendo Wii controller and GIS technologies to help citizens and planners decide where and how to rebuild should a severe storm strike.
The area recognizes its vulnerability to coastal storm hazards. Its barrier islands and white-sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico have been highly developed with affluent neighborhoods and first-class tourism facilities.
When the county recently began drafting a post-disaster redevelopment plan, the process raised land-use planning and private property concerns. County managers now want to address the rebuild issues to complete the county’s draft redevelopment plan.
Over the next several months, this project will bring community representatives and county managers together over a virtual tabletop, where they can simultaneously view and interact with map layers over an aerial image of Sarasota County.
The map layers can illustrate a wide range of information, such as census data, utility infrastructure, flood zones, and storm surge scenarios. Seeing how a decision about one factor affects other factors during a simulated recovery helps participants test ideas, and develop responses to challenging planning issues.
The tool is known as Coastal CHARM, an acronym that stands for Community Health and Resource Management. It was developed by researchers with Texas Sea Grant, and is presently being used to resolve planning issues in other Gulf of Mexico communities. This project’s combination of innovative technology with collaborative facilitation offers great promise for promoting local dialogue on challenging resource issues.