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article imageNew Orleans unveils new 'Resilient New Orleans' plan

By Karen Graham     Sep 1, 2017 in Technology
New Orleans - On Tuesday, just shy of being 10 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and unleashed a chain of events resulting in 1,800 deaths and $135 billion worth of damage, the city released a first-of-its-kind resilience plan.
Twelve years ago, after Katrina caused such massive destruction to New Orleans, the city realized they would need to rebuild in a way that would make the city safer and stronger, and paying attention to the hard lessons learned, New Orleans released their resilience strategy, in what Deputy Mayor Jeff Hebert described as a “pivot from recovery to resilience.”
A "smart city" strategy is an urban development vision to incorporate information and communication technology (ICT) and the Internet of things (IoT) technology in a way to manage a city's assets.
Such assets may include local departments' information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, and law enforcement, while a resilient city strategy uses a slightly different approach.
Rain from the remnants of Hurricane Harvey falls in New Orleans  where people with vivid memories of...
Rain from the remnants of Hurricane Harvey falls in New Orleans, where people with vivid memories of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 are providing an outpouring of sympathy and donations for people in horribly flooded Texas
The 100 Resilient Cities approach
Cities around the world are facing a growing range of adversities and challenges, including the effects of climate change, growing migrant populations, inadequate or crumbling infrastructure, pandemics, and cyber-attacks, and more. Being resilient to any of these challenges helps cities to adapt and transform while allowing them to tackle the expected and unexpected.
Rockefeller Foundation offshoot 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) defines urban resilience as “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.”
One big way the 100RC approach is different to smart city strategies is that 100RC takes a holistic approach to a city's problems, like understanding the systems that make up the city and the inter-dependencies and risks they may face. These stresses and shocks can include high unemployment, inefficient public transportation, violence and natural and man-made disasters.
Hurricane Katrina is just one example of a big shock hitting a city already stressed by other debilitating issues. The storm’s impact was made worse by stresses like racism, violence, divestment and aging infrastructure, poverty, lack of macro economic transformation, environmental degradation, and other chronic challenges.
People wait to be evacuated from the Superdome after the National Guard reported shots being fired o...
People wait to be evacuated from the Superdome after the National Guard reported shots being fired outside the arena, six days after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, on September 3, 2015
Nicholas Kamm, AFP/File
The whole point in using a resilience strategy in that it leads to better-designed projects and policies by addressing a number of challenges at one time that touches on the social, economic and physical benefits when used in a way that is inclusive and integrated.
New Orleans of the future
The new Resilient New Orleans plan is a mix of economic development and environmental sustainability with a whole lot of technological improvements in the infrastructure.
New Orleans has a history packed full of natural and man-made disasters, including the likes of Katrina, Rita, Ike, Gustav, Isaac, the BP oil spill and the Great Recession. Added to this is what 100RC diplomatically calls “unique experience with major urban emergencies." So yes, New Orleans was ready to move forward.
The decision led to the appointment of the city's first Chief Resiliency Officer, redevelopment agency veteran Jeff Hebert. His first job was to find some answers to several important questions - Where should development be concentrated in the first place? Who pays for costly infrastructure upgrades? And who ultimately will benefit from the fruits of all the flashy planning efforts?
Eastern New Orleans. The IHNC Surge Barrier  being built by the US Army Corps of Engineers at the GI...
Eastern New Orleans. The IHNC Surge Barrier, being built by the US Army Corps of Engineers at the GIWW / MRGO to help bring the standard of flood defence to the 1% level. 2010.
Ray Devlin
Luckily, New Orleans will make good use of BP's multibillion-dollar oil spill settlement. Today, there is a $14.5 billion levee system protecting the city, dubbed "The Great Wall of New Orleans."
Col. Rick Hansen, the commander of the New Orleans District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, said the $14.5 billion hurricanes and storm damage risk reduction system included "133 miles of levees ... around the Greater New Orleans area."The levee system has another two years of work to be done, but the city's latest plans include an overhaul of local transportation systems and the introduction of “green infrastructure."
New Orleans has also seen a jump in venture capital funding, from $16 per capita in 2010 to $32 per capita in 2014. The city has seen a great deal of renewed interest in the economic structure, from small businesses to big corporations. However, one problem that still needs a great deal of work involves the differences between black and white households.
Police gather evidence after a shooting at a playground in New Orleans  Louisiana on November 22  20...
Police gather evidence after a shooting at a playground in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 22, 2015
Cheryl Gerber, Getty/AFP
Besides the old problem with equality in education, and the uptick in violent crime this year, since 2005, the number of black households bringing in $35,000-$100,000 per year dropped by nine percentage points. The number of black households earning more than $100,000 also has dropped nine points since the storm.
“Nearly four out of five white residents believe the city has mostly recovered, while nearly three out of five blacks say it has not,” the New York Times reported in 2015, “a division sustained over a variety of issues including the local economy, the state of schools and the quality of life.”
The city's new resilience strategy is trying to address all the stresses that have been holding them back from achieving its goal of creating a healthy economy and an environment suitable for everyone. “We must align our infrastructure and urban environment with the realities of our delta soils and geography,” the report reads. “Our adaptation must be both physical and behavioral. Rather than resist water, we must learn to embrace it.”
More about 100 resilient cities, New orleans, disaster response, Houston, Resilience
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