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Exploring community resilience

This past week, I traveled to George Mason University as one of the three finalists for the Cameron Rian Hays Transportation Innovations Competition to present my submission: "Build-A-Lifeline: Encouraging Community Resilience through Flexible and Adaptive Transportation Networks." I had a great time meeting the Blue Ribbon judges and getting feedback from the audience about my proposal to encourage new ways for people to connect and create flexible transportation networks on top of fixed infrastructure to maximize urban mobility. I have posted the abstract of my original submission below:

Transportation planners and engineers are trained to plan for times of normalcy, rather than times of exception. As Hurricane Sandy, Katrina, and other natural and man-made disasters have demonstrated, our fixed transportation and infrastructure network is vulnerable to malfunction at these critical moments. In addition, the transportation sector accounts for one-third of CO2 emissions in the U.S. (Ewing et al. 2008), presenting an opportunity to improve both efficiency and resiliency of our transportation system through innovative approaches. While we can build more resilient “hardware” infrastructure such as roads, rail, subways, and so forth to withstand the effects of climate change and extreme weather patterns, a simultaneous approach is to encourage the “software” of cities and encourage social infrastructure through quicker and cheaper means.

Build-a-Lifeline is a tool that encourages social scaffolding by allowing anyone to build flexible and adaptive transportation networks, rather than relying solely on fixed hardware and infrastructure that may not be as adaptive and responsive to real-time conditions. It serves as a mobile and web-based application that empowers people to make smarter mobility choices about all transportation options available to them. Unlike existing tools, it combines all public and private sectors options in one platform (e.g., Lyft, Uber, etc. as well as municipal buses and subways), and it also allows people to select options based on specific preferences, cost, and needs. By providing information and choice, Build-A-Lifeline makes it easy for people to build and customize personal transportation lifelines, whether in times of normalcy or disaster.

Many thanks for the great experience and for awarding my submission second place!

Deland Chan