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Top-Down and Bottom-Up Measurement to Enhance Community Resilience to Disasters


The “community resilience” ideal breaks with earlier status quo thinking that it is enough for society to respond to disasters as they occur. Mounting human and economic losses and a several-decades-long upward trajectory in the extreme events (i.e., tropical storms, flooding, drought, and wildfire) occurring each year have made such a reactionary position no longer tenable. Policymakers, practitioners, and populations now aspire more fully for communities to anticipate, withstand, recover from, and emerge even stronger after a disaster.

Over the last decade, newly developed models and measurement schemes have given researchers and decision-makers a more systematic way to study community resilience and intervene to strengthen it. Because of the problem’s complexity and developers’ and users’ interests, however, these models and measures vary greatly. For instance, some emphasize physical structures, from an engineering perspective, while others focus on institutional and interpersonal elements, informed by the social and behavioral sciences.

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Schoch-Spana, Monica, Kimberly Gill, Divya Hosangadi, Cathy Slemp, Robert Burhans, Janet Zeis, Eric Carbone, and Jonathan Links. 2019. "Top-Down and Bottom-Up Measurement to Enhance Community Resilience to Disasters." American Journal of Public Health (September). https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305151

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