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Socio-Economic Indicators

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    Dr. Stephanie Chang University of British Columbia

Developing community-scale, socio-economic indicators of vulnerability and risk related to marine hazards.

Dr. Chang is looking at the vulnerability of coastal communities to marine hazards (earthquake, flooding, etc.) and creating a tool to share MEOPAR hazard information to help those communities plan and react.

Using the Strait of Georgia, BC, as a model, the overall objective of this project is to develop an online, interactive information platform (Resilient-C platform) on coastal communities' hazard vulnerability in order to share information that can be used to build community resilience. Data were gathered from primary and secondary sources, including a survey of Strait of Georgia communities (n=30). The team has nearly completed a "beta" version of the platform, which will be tested in late 2016 by end users (i.e., municipal planners) who have already been recruited. The plan is to make the platform publicly available within the next year. The analytical methodology and preliminary results have been published in the journal Natural Hazards, and two other papers are under review. The platform will be linked to existing MEOPAR observation and prediction systems to provide marine hazard information, and will be used by West Coast (and eventually East Coast) communities.

Within this scope, the research pursues two innovative directions:

1) Modelling socioeconomic impacts (esp. economic and health impacts) of storm surge in Vancouver by using self-organizing maps (SOMs) to develop robust impact scenarios and vulnerability indicators. Results will be incorporated in the city's planning for sea-level rise.

2) Developing analytical methods, a database, and an online platform for identifying similarly vulnerable coastal communities. This approach can facilitate information exchange and resource sharing for risk reduction; for example, by connecting East and West Coast communities with similar vulnerability profiles. Indicators draw mainly from existing resources (e.g., CanCoast), and synergies are being explored with other Canadian projects (e.g., Coastal Cities at Risk).


  • City of Vancouver


  • Christopher Carter University of British Columbia
  • Rebecca Chaster University of British Columbia
  • Tugce Conger University of British Columbia
  • Michelle Marteleira University of British Columbia
  • Greg Oulahen University of British Columbia
  • Jackie Yip University of British Columbia


  • Chang,Stephanie,Chaster,Rebecca,Lowcock,Ashley,Yip,Jackie ,van Zijill de Jong,Shona,. 2015, "Using Vulnerability Indicators to Develop Resilience Networks: A Similarity Approach," , Natural Hazards, 78(3): 1827-1841,10.1007/s11069-015-1803-x.
  • Carter,Christopher,Chang,Stephanie,. 2015, "Flyover: The Strait of Georgia", HAZNET: The newsletter of the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network,
  • Chang,Stephanie,J Stone, K Demes, M Piscitelli. 2014, Consequences of Oil Spills: A framework for scenario planning, Ecology and Society,
  • Kovacs,Paul,Oulahen,Greg,Sandink,Dan,Shrubsole, D.. 2016, Public relief and insurance for residential flood losses in Canada: Current status and commentary, Canadian Water Resources Journal, 10.1080/07011784.2015.1040458.
  • Oulahen,Greg,. 2016, The production of unequal vulnerability to flood hazards: A conceptual framework for hazards research in Canada‚Äôs cities. , The Canadian Geographer, 60(1), 82-90,10.1111/cag.12232.

This work will lead to the linking of storms and coastal flooding with economic impacts, safety, planning, and policy; developing new tools for rapid assessment and forecasting in marine environmental emergencies; and implementing new approaches for sharing expertise, data, and infrastructure to respond more effectively to marine emergencies.