Reducing Our Risk

Organization: 
Red Hook HUB, c/o Red Hook Initiative

Entry Overview

The Red Hook HUB is a public communications system that helps inform, connect, and engage the Red Hook community. Through the HUB, community members are able to share and access information relevant to community needs during both crisis and non-crisis conditions. The HUB is a system of physical and digital community bulletin boards designed to serve the diverse constituencies of Red Hook. The HUB consists of participant content shared via online submission, social media, and physical postings by community members, organizations, businesses and government officials. The physical structures are placed throughout the community and consist of HUB bulletin boards, “HUBlets” containing weekly updates, and HUB LED tickers that display official information. During a weather emergency, such as Hurricane Sandy, the HUB will become a reliable and trustworthy source for vital and relevant information that members of the community will rely on. Ensuring that evacuation procedures and proper safety measures effectively reach the community before a weather emergency strikes, and where to obtain rescue and relief services afterwards is vital to preventing/ minimizing loss and damage.

General Info
Anthony
Schloss
Email : 
tony@rhicenter.org
Organization Address: 
767 Hicks St
Brooklyn, New York 11231
United States
Problem
Population Impacted: 
All citizens of Redhook, 11,319.
Hazard: 
Storm Surge
Identify the likelihood and frequency of this hazard : 
Based on the conclusions of a forthcoming study from researchers at NASA and Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Observatory the chances of a storm with surge levels
Explain how vulnerable the community is to this hazard: 
Red Hook is extremely vulnerable to storm surge, as it is located directly on the upper bay and the entire neighborhood is below sea level. Furthermore its population is ill prepared due to lack of flood resistant housing, concentrated population, and large portions of the community residing in poorly maintained low income housing with few options for support due to lack of social capital and economic resources.
List the potential affects of this hazard: 
Following Hurricane Sandy, virtually all of Red Hook was flooded and lost power, heat, and hot water for varying time periods depending on the degree of damage to buildings. Public housing residents did not have services restored for three weeks. Many suffered damage to their homes, and infrastructure was destroyed by extensive flooding and lack of utility service.
Identify how sensitive the community is to these affects: 
60% of residents have an income below the federal poverty level, and this lack of resources is exacerbated in times of disaster. The housing stock in Red Hook cannot be adequately flood proofed due to NYC zoning regulations. The majority of Red Hook residents live in multilevel public housing buildings without effective systems of support from the Housing Authority. Efforts to combat future vulnerability include the creation of a long term disaster preparedness plan.
Action
Preparedness Goal: 
The HUB creates a system which will provide vital information in times of natural disaster, minimizing negative effects.
Implementing Actions: 

There are two major aspects to the information network which is created by the HUB: the physical aspects by which the information is delivered, and the multiple ways to share information for community members. In order to create the physical delivery system, we have installed two bulletin boards with the coordination of the Red Hook Branch Library and the Miccio Community Center. These two locations are highly trafficked public areas. Additionally we have installed a LED ticker and disseminate weekly bulletins via email and printed updates posted throughout the community. A team of graphic designers created the website and branding to facilitate use and create an engaging identity for the system. There are multiple ways for community members to engage with the HUB, with the goal of sharing and receiving information being independent of technical skills or access. Residents can post online, use social media, fill out a printed form, call a hotline or create their own flyers. A HUB Committee was created consisting of representatives from the Miccio Community Center, the Library, local businesses owners and other stakeholders in the community. The Committee created a set of guidelines which outline what constitutes a featured post, a non-featured post, and what is prohibited from being posted. The HUB Coordinator, following guidelines created by the Committee, is able to more prominently feature certain information deemed vital to the community, as well as filter inappropriate content. The HUB also features an Emergency mode, where all emergency related information takes precedence and is featured more prominently. Visit www.redhookhub.org to see the HUB in action.

Solution
Describe Your Solution: 

By creating a trustworthy and user friendly method of information delivery, the HUB builds community communication and a reliable network. Having a reliable system for distributing information during a weather related disaster is crucial to minimizing negative effects of said event. During Hurricane Sandy there were evacuation plans in place as well as services for those that were left without electricity, heat, and hot water. However, many did not know that they were meant to evacuate, that evacuation assistance was being provided, or that rescue and aid services were available. For those of us who worked intensely during the Hurricane recovery period, communication and community networks were identified as the most crucial elements to a successful response. As the HUB is utilized by the community it will become ingrained into community life. People realize that the best place to post and receive information relevant to the community is the HUB, and come into the habit of checking it. Thus, in the days leading up to a hurricane or other weather emergency, community members will turn to the HUB for information about how to proceed and will therefore be better prepared. After the event, they will physically go to the HUB for information about rescue and aid efforts. This will also effectively drive traffic to the Miccio Community Center and the Library, bringing the community together and creating a natural center for activities. During a recent blizzard, the HUB was the centralized system for emergency information, used exactly as intended, and now our Councilman is exploring replicating the HUB in other parts of his district.

Results
Economic?: 

Local businesses are able promote themselves and their services as well as offering employment opportunities through the HUB. By driving community members to local businesses and providing employment opportunities the HUB users and the community at large will become more economically stable, making recovery from natural disaster easier. Communicating safety procedures such as turning off electricity and similar precautions that are aimed at minimizing fires and other compounding factors that could cause damage to the area effectively limits these risks. The less damage that is caused by a weather event, the less the cost of rebuilding.

Environmental?: 

Preventable damage to the environment which can be caused by fire or oil spillage will be minimized due to citizens being instructed on what preparations to make before leaving their homes.

Social?: 

The HUB creates a social network within the area and builds cooperation. Many of the resources needed for recovery and or disaster readiness already exist but need to be connected with the people in need of them. By connecting people in the neighborhood the HUB builds residents’ sense of community and strengthens the social fabric within the neighborhood as well as raising the social capital of the individual.

What were the negative or unintended impacts (if any) associated with implementing this solution? : 

We have not yet encountered any unintended or negative impacts with the implementation of this solution. The HUB was created over months of community participation led by a team of graphic designers working closely with leaders from local nonprofit community organizations. This intensive community engagement created multiple opportunities to identify and find solutions to potential problems. One issue we are paying close attention to is the need for a person to act as a HUB Coordinator, and the need to find resources to support her work.

Replication/Scale
Return on Investment: How much did it cost to implement these activities? How do your results above compare to this investment?: 

The development of the Red Hook HUB was led by a team of graphic designers working with a “creative placemaking” grant of $30,000 from the Association Institute of Graphic Arts. These funds supported the community outreach by the graphic designers, the web design, and the buildout cost of the weatherproof physical bulletin boards. The only other investment that may be quantified is the portion of salaries of the employees of local nonprofit organizations who helped the team of graphic designers connect with community members and shepherd the work. The equipment and development costs outlined above are fairly minimal when compared to the economic and social benefits that can be accessed by residents through the HUB. The success of the HUB will be most greatly influenced by the participation of the community, which in our opinion is an investment that can only have positive return.

What are the main factors needed to successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?: 

The most significant element needed for replication is for community partners to be engaged in the process of developing and initiating the system to respond to the specific needs of their community. They must be organized into a committee, work together to create guidelines for use and create a plan for sustainability. They must also find a willing host for the physical structure such as a library or community center or other public building. Once there is an effective partnership and committee, an initial investment is required to pay for the cost of the website design and the billboards. A committee can easily follow the protocol and procedure that has been developed by the Red Hook HUB committee and successfully recreate the HUB.

Contest Info
Contest Name: 
Reducing Our Risk

Contest Partners

Contest Sponsors

SHARE THIS PAGE: