• WindstormsNIST leads federal effort to save lives, property from windstorms

    Congress recently designated NIST to be the lead agency for the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP). In one of its first actions as lead agency, NIST has announced in the Federal Register that it is establishing a panel of external experts to “provide advice on windstorm impact reduction and represent related scientific, architectural and engineering disciplines.”

  • ResilienceLessons learned from the U.S.-Canada cross-border experiment

    A tornado has just devastated a community on the border between the United States and Canada. Paramedics scramble to bring patients from over-crowded hospitals across the border. Communication blackouts and downed trees force ambulances to weave their way through blowing debris, fallen electrical lines, and car wrecks. The time for a routine trip from the injury site to the hospital has now tripled. While this did not really happen, it was the focus in April when the DHS S&T and several Canadian government agencies collaborated on a cross-border experiment with a focus on preparing emergency responders for this type of scenario.

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  • ResilienceColorado county adopts NIST community resilience guidelines

    The Boulder County Collaborative, a partnership of Boulder County, Colorado, communities formed in response to the catastrophic floods that struck the region in September 2013, has used the NIST Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems to develop and adopt its own resilience design performance standard for community facilities and infrastructure systems.

  • ResilienceNew USGS models help predict storm effects on beaches

    As the 2016 hurricane season opens, weather forecasters, emergency managers and coastal residents have access to tools developed by the USGS which predict, more precisely than ever, where beach erosion and beachfront flooding will take place during hurricanes and other storms.

  • ResilienceImproving national resiliency: Joplin tornado 5th anniversary

    Disaster struck Joplin, Missouri, on 22 May 2011, when the deadliest and costliest single tornado in U.S. history left a 22-mile long path of destruction. The storm killed 161 people, destroyed some 8,000 structures, and left $2.8 billion in damages in its wake. In the five years since the tragedy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has led the effort to learn from the devastation and make improvements based on those lessons so that communities nationwide can become more resilient to tornadoes, significantly reducing both deaths and property damage.

  • Resilience“G-Science” academies call for strengthening global disaster resilience

    In the decade between 2005 and 2014, more than 6,000 natural and technological disasters occurred around the world, killing more than 0.8 million people, displacing millions more, and costing more than $1 trillion. Losses due to disasters are increasing in both developed and developing countries. Human factors that increase exposure and vulnerability, such as poverty, rapid population growth, disorderly urbanization, corruption, conflict and changes in land use, poor infrastructure including non-engineered housing, together with effects of climate change on weather patterns with increased extreme events, aggravate the negative consequences of natural and technological hazards.

  • FloodsTools to help communities predict, cope with floods

    Anticipation and preparedness of large-scale flood events play a key role in mitigating their impacts and optimizing the strategic planning of water resources. Although many countries have well-established systems for river monitoring and early flood warning, an increasing number of inhabitants are affected by floods every year. The Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) has been set up providing an overview on upcoming flooding in large world river basins.

  • Resilience Evaluating investments in community resilience

    Communities weighing choices for capital improvement projects intended to improve their resilience to severe weather, wildfires, earthquakes, or other types of hazards now have a new guide to help them sort through the costs and benefits of each when deciding which investment is best for their particular circumstances. A new NIST report details steps for evaluating the “economic ramifications” of contemplated resilience investments as well as the option of maintaining the status quo.

  • ResilienceTerror attacks in Paris and California expose modern society’s lack of resilience

    By Joseph Fiksel

    Our complex global society lacks resilience. The root cause of our vulnerability is the structure of the global economy: highly interconnected, complex, and filled with turbulence. Major disasters can occur unexpectedly, and even minor incidents can cascade into significant human and financial losses. Emerging pressures such as climate change and urbanization will only intensify the potential for extreme events and severe disruptions. Risk management makes sense in a stable environment with predictable events, but in today’s more complex risk landscape — the new normal — it is inadequate for dealing with fast-moving, unfamiliar threats that may cascade into disasters. The good news is that brittleness is not inevitable. It is a fundamental design flaw. Resilience — the capacity to survive, adapt, and flourish in the face of disruptive change — is a basic characteristic of all living systems, from individual creatures to entire ecosystems. In this age of turbulence, resilience has become a prerequisite for continued prosperity.

  • ResilienceFirst code improvements based on NIST Joplin tornado study adopted

    Protecting schools and their associated high-occupancy buildings from the most violent tornadoes is the goal of the first approved building code changes based on recommendations from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) technical investigation into the impacts of the deadly tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, on 22 May 2011. The new changes, approved at a recent meeting of the International Code Council (ICC), apply to the nation’s most tornado-prone regions.

  • Emerging threatsBlitz spirit needed to meet challenges like climate change: Dr. Hugh Hunt

    Today’s engineers will need the kind of drive and determination shown by the great wartime innovators such as Sir Barnes Wallis and Sir Frank Whittle if they are to respond effectively to challenges such as climate change, Dr. Hugh Hunt told the Royal Academy of Engineering on Tuesday. Hunt compared today’s challenge of adapting to future climate change with the imperative to develop new technologies to tip the balance of military capability in favor of the Allies during the Second World War.

  • Disaster recoveryFEMA paid $250 million in duplicate benefits after Hurricane Sandy: DHS IG

    The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) says it used “innovative data matching tools” to determine that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) paid approximately $250 million in disaster assistance to more than 29,000 Hurricane Sandy applicants who may have received duplicate benefits from their private insurers.

  • Disaster recoveryFEMA funding for post-Sandy recovery in New Jersey exceeds $6.8 billion

    In the three years since Hurricane Sandy scored a direct hit on New Jersey, FEMA has provided $6.8 billion to date to help the state recover and rebuild. FEMA Public Assistance, which provides funds for repair and rebuilding of infrastructure and public facilities as well as necessary work such as debris removal and emergency response, has obligated $1.809 billion in Public Assistance funds towards repair and rebuilding projects in New Jersey.

  • Disaster recoveryFEMA aid for New York’s Hurricane Sandy recovery reaches $16.9 billion

    FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration have disbursed nearly $16.9 billion for New York’s recovery since Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the East Coast three years ago. FEMA said that this amount includes more than $1 billion paid directly to survivors for housing and other essential needs through the Individuals and Households Program which ended 30 April 2014.

  • InfrastructurePipeline replacement programs are effective

    Aging infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and natural gas and water mains, is an increasing concern. In 2011 the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a call to action to accelerate the repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of the highest-risk pipeline infrastructure. Invisible gas leaks from aging or damaged pipelines cost U.S. consumers billions of dollars every year, contribute to global warming and, in rare cases, cause dangerous explosions. Pipeline replacement programs in cities, however, can cut natural gas leaks by 90 percent, a new study finds. “The surprise wasn’t that replacement programs worked,” said the study’s lead author. “It was that they worked so well.”