News from the Bush School

Bush School Researcher Receives NSF Grant to Study Flood Resilience Measures

September 24, 2018

Bryce Hannibal

Dr. Bryce Hannibal

Dr. Bryce Hannibal, an assistant research scientist at the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service, is investigating how social network communication and collaboration affect flood resilience. The study is the first to apply network analysis to resilience efforts and is receiving a two-year roughly $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The research focuses on collaboration between public and private groups who work on resilience planning.

“I was pretty surprised because these grant initiatives are so competitive. But I am very excited to get the study underway,” Hannibal said on finding out he and his co-researchers won the National Science Foundation grant.

Flooding costs around the world are reaching $60 billion annually, and Hannibal is working alongside Sierra Woodruff, Texas A&M assistant professor of urban planning, and Sara Meerow, assistant professor of geographical sciences and urban planning at Arizona State University, to test the success of resilience planning through surveys, interviews, and evaluating hazard plans in four communities that use resilience planning.

Dr. Hannibal will characterize inter-organizational dynamics around flood resilience planning by analyzing urban governance networks. The research team will focus on Baltimore, Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, and Seattle. The study will use social network analysis to map and characterize the structure of communication and collaboration networks. Hannibal will survey city managers, resilience officials, and others involved in planning. The questions will focus on how frequently participants talk about flood mitigation with other actors, how often they work together on mitigation or resilience projects, and the importance of specific types of collaboration in building resilience.

The study seeks to knock down policy silos and encourage collaborative problem solving. Several cities have welcomed resilience planning as a way to decrease flooding costs. It is a new concept that seeks to diminish natural hazard vulnerability by bringing together natural hazard and land use planning, processes that typically happen separately. While there is consensus that coordination across departments and fields is crucial to organizing resilience planning, there is not enough evidence to show collaboration across organizations on resilience improves plans.

Hannibal, Woodruff, and Meerow will present their findings when they reach conclusions on their research.