Urban Resilience

Helping Cities Build More Resilient Infrastructure & Societal Systems

Cities and large metropolitan regions face a range of growing challenges from climate change and increasing urbanization: rising sea levels, droughts and extreme heat, changes in precipitation and storm patterns, population growth and land use changes, and other uncertain but significant drivers. Moreover, to respond effectively, city planners must work across traditional jurisdictional boundaries and with a wide range of stakeholders to resolve key tradeoffs and identify consensus, implementable solutions.

WCRC helps decisionmakers in urban regions understand and respond to the effects of climate change and other key drivers, building resilience and adaptive capacity to current and emerging challenges.

RAND was selected by the City of Pittsburgh to serve as its Strategy Partner for the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilience Cities Initiative. RAND supported the city's development of OnePGH, a city-wide resilience strategy designed to help local decisionmakers respond, adapt, and grow in the face of chronic, urban stresses and acute shocks.

  • Traffic barriers with a sign reading "Road Closed High Water" on the roadside near Washington Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA. Photo by Jordan Fischbach / RAND Corporation

    Managing Heavy Rainfall with Green Infrastructure

    Oct 26, 2020

    Urban stormwater management is a growing challenge in many U.S. cities. An evaluation of Pittsburgh's Negley Run watershed, an urgent flood-risk challenge, shows investment in green stormwater infrastructure could reduce flooding and provide net positive economic benefits.

  • Ducklings and a swan gather on a sandbank in the Jamaica Bay neighborhood of New York City

    Building Resilience in an Urban Coastal Environment

    Jul 31, 2018

    What are the potential effects of climate change and sea level rise on flood risk, ecosystems, and water quality in New York City's Jamaica Bay? How can flood risk be reduced while also improving water quality, restoring habitat, and improving resilience to extreme weather events?

  • Wetlands in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, with houses in the background.

    Computational Modeling of the Jamaica Bay System

    Jun 28, 2018

    Computational models are essential tools to support resilience planning for Jamaica Bay. Models connect observations with hypotheses and theories about how physical and social systems work, allowing scientists to articulate and test system understanding against data.

  • Aerial view of Miami, Florida

    Adapting to a Changing Climate in Southeast Florida

    Jun 6, 2018

    Florida's Miami-Dade and Broward counties are vulnerable to flooding and intrusion of saltwater into drinking water. These risks are driven by sea level rise, changes in precipitation, and urban development. How can the region adapt?

  • A picture of multiple street signs in a flood

    Flood Risk Resilience: Definitions and Existing Tools for Communities

    Sep 12, 2017

    A literature review examines definitions, themes, and guidance surrounding community resilience to flood risk. What decision support tools exist to help communities with flood mitigation efforts, and how have they been used in the past?

  • People walk alongside the Tujunga Wash urban stream in Los Angeles

    A Climate Stress Test of Los Angeles' Water Quality Plans

    Sep 20, 2017

    Climate change can significantly affect water quality, but most plans for meeting water quality standards in the USA assume stationary climate. A robust decision making analysis shows how climate change could impact water quality in the Tujunga Wash, the largest subwatershed of the Los Angeles River.

  • New York City skyline with ships in the foreground

    Guide to the Resilience Valuation Model

    Aug 1, 2017

    Resilience projects have costs and benefits for communities, regardless of whether a shock or stressor occurs. Developing a framework for estimating the net benefits of resilience interventions will help policymakers and investors achieve the greatest possible benefits.

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    A Framework for Estimating The Benefits of Resilience Projects

    Aug 1, 2017

    Policymakers, program practitioners, and investors who want to achieve the greatest possible benefits from resilience projects lack effective tools to estimate the net benefits of those projects. Existing approaches often do not provide a sufficient framework for estimating the benefits that might accrue, especially if a shock or stress does not occur.

  • A view of  downtown Pittsburgh, the Sixth Street Bridge, and the Allegheny River

    Robust Stormwater Management in the Pittsburgh Region

    Apr 24, 2017

    The city of Pittsburgh and its surrounding region face significant—and potentially growing—stormwater management challenges. Analysis can help better understand the system's vulnerabilities and identify solutions.

  • Pedestrians walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh

    OnePGH: Supporting Development of Pittsburgh's Resilience Strategy

    Mar 8, 2017

    RAND partnered with the city of Pittsburgh to develop the city's first city-wide Resilience Strategy. Known as OnePGH, it's a comprehensive plan to address the current and future challenges that confront the city and its residents.

  • Pittsburgh skyline with Point State Park and the Allegheny River

    Resilient Stormwater Management in Allegheny County

    Oct 2, 2015

    The Pittsburgh Metropolitan Region faces major challenges in managing its water resources, and lacks key information about climate change and future vulnerability. A framework is needed to evaluate options and identify cost-effective solutions.

  • Water line repair in a city street

    Pittsburgh's Options to Address Lead in Its Water

    Jun 27, 2017

    Pittsburgh is struggling to manage and improve its aging water system, with a focus on elevated lead levels for many customers. What steps could help steer the city toward a permanent solution and protect future generations?

  • The remains of houses destroyed during Hurricane Sandy are seen in the Rockaways area of New York's borough of Queens, January 14, 2013

    Flood Insurance Costs Rising in New York City

    Mar 27, 2017

    Hurricane Sandy highlighted the importance of efforts to promote resilience. Flood insurance is a key component, but it's hard to afford for some households in New York City. What are some options for a program that helps reduce the impact of higher premiums?

  •  Baotu Spring in Jinan City, Shandong, China

    RAND Releases Evaluation of the Jinan City Water Ecological Development Implementation Plan

    Mar 9, 2017

    The Jinan Municipal Water Resources Bureau, with support from the Shandong Provincial Department of Water Resources, asked RAND to evaluate potential effects of demand and climate uncertainties on investments recently undertaken according to the Jinan City Water Ecological Development Implementation Plan. The RAND research team, led by David Groves and Debra Knopman, also assessed the potential of new investments and management strategies to help Jinan meet its long-term water resources goals.

  • A flooded street in an oceanside community after Hurricane Sandy.

    How Affordable is Flood Insurance in New York City?

    Mar 23, 2017

    Flood insurance is an important part of community resilience, but coverage in New York City is inconsistent, and difficult for many families to afford. However, there are promising financial assistance options.

  • Miami skyline at night

    Urban Responses to Climate Change

    Dec 7, 2016

    More than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas. Thus, cities lie at the epicenter of America's response to climate change. Analysis can inform how cities choose strategies and allocate resources.

  • An aerial photo of a flood-affected area of northern Colorado along the Big Thompson River which has been declared a federal disaster area in September 2013

    Climate Change May Increase Future Exposure of U.S. Infrastructure to Natural Hazards

    Jul 12, 2016

    Exposure to natural hazards such as flooding, drought, and wildfires is projected to be larger and more uncertain in the future due to the effects of sea level rise and changes in temperature and precipitation patterns.

  • A bulldozer is parked in the Queens borough of New York where a concrete foundation is all that remains of a house that burned to the ground during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012

    Lessons Learned from Implementing Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines

    Dec 9, 2014

    The Presidential Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force developed guidelines to ensure that federal agencies incorporate key principles of resilience into their formulation, evaluation, and prioritization of infrastructure investments related to Sandy rebuilding. An initial assessment of the implementation of the guidelines identifies opportunities and challenges.