Smart and Connected Communities

Designing Smart, Sustainable Risk Reduction in Hazard-Prone Communities: Modeling Risk Across Scales of Time and Space


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Our interdisciplinary team of researchers from UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Davis


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Creating communities that are more resilient to wildfires by harnessing the collective knowledge and action of community members, emergency personnel, civic leaders, and researchers.


Figure. Logic Model of the Sociotechnical Research Framework for Resilient Communities

The Major Goals of the Project 

The purpose of this project is to develop new methods for managing risk in communities exposed to recurring natural hazards, such as wildfires. The project will use a complex systems approach to hazard reduction across multiple scales of risk. It will develop a new generation of socio-technical digital twin that integrates models of physical infrastructure systems and virtual networks of communication with social games. The project will use serious games to activate learning processes inherent in play to engage the community’s awareness and commitment to collective action.

Specifically, the project aims to:

  • Develop a new sociotechnical digital twin of the San Francisco Bay Area that integrates virtual models of physical infrastructure systems, social/commercial networks, and insurance mechanisms that distribute risk over space and time.
  • Design and develop serious games that can be used to activate learning processes and engage the community’s awareness and commitment to collective action.
  • Investigate whether community learning processes that focus on cognition and action will mitigate wildfire risk in the short-term and lead to sustainable adaptation to recurring risk conditions in the long-term.
  • Engage under-represented minorities in affected regions and support decision-makers in vulnerable communities.

The project is expected to make significant contributions to the field of risk management by:

  • Developing new methods for managing risk in communities exposed to recurring natural hazards.
  • advancing risk management theory by testing a prototype sociotechnical framework for developing shared knowledge to support decision making by multiple actors at different scales to reduce hazard risk.
  • providing a macro view of risk at the regional scale, as well as detailed views of interactions at the micro scale, essential to manage operations.
  • translating risk information into formats that are easily understood by different groups and embedding learning processes in gaming scenarios to advance risk reduction.
  • shifting the perspective from reaction to extreme events after they occur to anticipation of risk and mitigation of potential losses before hazards occur.
  • increasing the level of shared cognition of risk and commitment to action among diverse community actors.


Learn more on this project here 


Sponsored by

This project is in response to the National Science Foundation (NSF) – Smart & Connected Communities (SCC) program. It is co-funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments.


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