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New York City Hazard Mitigation Plan Goes Digital

Challenge

Hazard mitigation plans (HMPs) are often dense, technical documents that can be hundreds of pages. New York City was one of the first communities in the country to convert its plan content into a web-based, living document. New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) led the effort to replace the 500-page printed mitigation plan with an interactive and visually appealing website that has user-friendly tabs to communicate risk and promote mitigation investments.

Solution

The web-based format provides a central location to house mitigation plans from NYCEM’s emergency management partners. It has current information about projects and programs run by a wide variety of organizations in New York City.

The document grows and evolves with the city since users can update the online version as information changes. The new design helps planners and the public easily locate specific information. It also helps the city streamline the plan update process by referencing the existing risk reduction work in and around the city.

While this new digital format helps with accessibility and keeping the plan current, the online plan content is still equivalent to about 600 pages. It has more content than the 2014 plan, yet the web-based platform makes the information easier to digest. To help with awareness and understanding, the city developed a public outreach document called NYC Risk Landscape. This 150-page condensed version of the 2019 mitigation plan demonstrates the city’s efforts to engage the public while keeping the language clear and user-friendly. Another convenient feature of the web-based plan is the online feedback form that allows webpage visitors to submit comments freely.

Along with moving the plan online, the planning team went to great lengths to engage New Yorkers during the planning process. Over 100 organizations—including working groups, community groups, and regional organizations—were involved with the 2019 update. They conducted dozens of meetings and interviews and rolled out a pilot project to promote neighborhood-specific hazard plans.

Local officials can review important information in this living document, such as updated resource location maps, risk assessment tools and standard operating procedures. This 2019 update included reviewing over 30 plans and studies. Future updates will be integrated with other citywide resiliency efforts, including OneNYC2050, New York City’s long-term plan.

Key Takeaways

New York City can lead the way for other major cities to advance the quality and accessibility of mitigation planning. The mitigation plan consolidated in a central location is useful and it will accelerate the process for other agencies to find relevant risk and mitigation strategy information for their potential projects. Web-based documents have many benefits, including:

  • Plans are updated continuously, including maps and data, which informs mitigation investment decisions.
  • The Hazard History and Consequence tool is updated regularly with historic event information, which allows these resources to provide current information that supports local planning decisions and mitigation grant-seeking efforts.
  • The Mitigation Action Tracker is an interactive map that displays different mitigation projects citywide. As specific hazard mitigation actions are updated, the list of citywide resiliency initiatives is also updated.
  • The NYC Hazard Environment Story Map analyzes how certain aspects in the city may increase the impacts of hazard events. This story map includes a series of interactive maps and dashboards that help understand risk, mitigation planning and emergency management.

Related Documents and Links

To learn more about funding eligible projects, review the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program and the new pre-disaster mitigation program, Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities. A FEMA-approved HMP is required for funding under these programs.

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Last updated February 11, 2021