Dr. Rotem Dvir, Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy (ISTPP) assistant research scientist, has recently published a paper co-authored with Dr. Arnold Vedlitz, Director of the ISTPP and Dr. Ali Mostafavi, ISTPP Fellow and director of the Urban Resilience AI Lab, in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction (IJDRR). In their article, Far from Home: Infrastructure, Access to Essential Services, and Risk Perceptions about Hazard Weather Events, they explore the underlying role of limited access and local infrastructure conditions in shaping residents’ risk perceptions and behaviors concerning natural hazards.
The authors argue that access to essential services is a critical driver of variations in the public’s perceptions of risk with regard to hazardous weather events. The conditions of local infrastructure serve a complementary role that enables or impedes access in emergency scenarios. Using survey data collected in Texas in 2021 as part of a National Science Foundation funded study, they show that residents who face more restrictions on access given their local infrastructure are more concerned about different actions during disaster events, including getting to essential services such as health care facilities, or needing to evacuate to safety in a more extreme scenario. An in-depth investigation of the more vulnerable at-risk population (facing more limitations on access) reveals that those individuals report risk perceptions that are more than 30% higher than the less vulnerable citizens.
The results of this study offer important insights about factors that usually become more significant when disaster has already struck. The results also highlight the need to improve the conditions of local infrastructure in order to increase community resilience when facing extreme weather events and natural disasters.