re:focus partners provides environmental advisory and technical design services for cities to build public-private partnerships for integrated urban infrastructure systems. With years of experience working in both federal government and the private sector, the re:focus team brings together engineering, design, finance and policy experience to solve major resilience challenges. In January 2013, re:focus launched a million dollar Rockefeller Foundation supported initiative called RE.invest to develop city-wide resilient infrastructure solutions in 8 partner cities. As a result of an initial 18-month research and analysis process in support of RE.invest, re:focus has compiled a set of best-in-class adaptation solutions for climate impacts, such as sea level rise, flooding, and extreme weather. Examples of specific projects and technologies include self-deploying flood barriers, sea walls that raise and lower based on changing tidal surges, systems that produce energy from wastewater, and new desalination technologies.
Over the next year, re:focus commits to developing an online platform, the Adaptation Atlas, to feature these types of solutions, and in doing so help city officials, including Chief Resilience Officers, work with the private sector to tackle urban resilience challenges. Specifically, re:focus will survey cities across the US to capture key information on local climate risks and priorities to create a robust set of climate impact maps. In addition, re:focus will engage innovative companies from around the world to create a map layer highlighting where projects are underway to help communities adapt to climate challenges, making it easier for cities to learn about potential solutions and connect with leading private sector experts. By partnering with Blue Raster, an award-winning Geographic Information Systems (GIS) firm, to design and develop the new tool, re:focus will ensure that the Atlas is an easily accessible web-resource that uses best-available science and state-of-the-art analytic systems to help cities leverage public and private resources to build long-term resilience.
June 23, 2014: Launch the Adaptation Atlas website, featuring an invitation to sign-up with surveys designed to collect information from two unique user communities: cities and companies. Cities will be asked to provide links to their public GIS climate impact data resources to support local data integration with global climate impact forecasts and maps. Companies will be asked to provide detailed information about their resilient infrastructure projects and technologies, including geographic location, project or product type, and the climate impact addressed to highlight installed and operating local solutions.
July-August 2014: Leverage CGI meeting to approach, secure and announce non-profit and private sector partners to provide both financial and technical support.
September-December 2014: Collect relevant information on adaptation and resilient infrastructure projects implemented around the world from innovative companies identified during the RE.invest Initiative design process. Add local GIS climate data provided by 8 RE.invest Initiative partner cities to refine the database and web interface.
Q1 2015: Iteratively refine the mapping and analytic features of the tool based on user testing with an initial set of city and company partners to ensure product success. Work with municipal, non-profit and corporate partners to engage next set of city (>10) and company (>20) users to expand the listings within the Atlas and further refine the interface.
Q2 2015: Design outreach campaign, including but not limited to a public launch leveraging identified networks and individuals who will promote the tool to a larger set of users.
Q3 2015: Launch tool publicly, leveraging CGI America 2015 as a platform to reach cities and companies around the world.
Cities are on the front lines of climate change, facing impacts from droughts to floods. In recent years, scientists and policymakers have focused on generating bigger and better climate data-sea level rise, precipitation, and temperature forecasts-to help communities respond. But big data alone is not a solution. Like a doctor who runs tests that confirm that you are sick, but then has no prescription to cure you, most climate datasets establish there is a problem but don't offer options for how to respond. Knowing that sea level rise will impact coastal cities, is not the same as knowing how to protect city residents from flooding.
The Atlas aims to bridge this gap between climate impact science and on-the-ground action. By mapping resilient infrastructure and technology projects, the Atlas will help answer three main questions for cities:
1. What climate impacts are likely to hit my community?
2. What are my options for responding and adapting?
3. Who else is facing similar impacts and what actions are they taking?
Using this platform, a city engineer can find best-available science on sea level rise, look for projects-like self-deploying flood barriers-designed to manage rising waters, and find other communities facing similar challenges to see what actions they are taking. A city budget director can use the same tool to track projects and plans, prioritize investments, and avoid programs that undercut one another. By going beyond compiling data to intelligently capture and cross-reference resilience projects, the Atlas is the difference between having a map and getting directions to where you want to go.
Communities need more than anecdotes. They need to know what is working, where, and for whom. The Adaptation Atlas is designed to connect these dots and help cities find the resilience solutions they need.
The Adaptation Atlas is a unique opportunity for cities, companies, and philanthropies to improve public procurement processes and expand the resilience and environmental infrastructure market. To achieve those goals, the next phase of Adaptation Atlas development will prioritize structuring a crowdsourcing mechanism to streamline project upload and building a project review system to highlight project performance. The first priority to support those activities is to secure additional funding. In addition, partnering with environmental technology and engineering companies to feature their resilience solutions on the Atlas and coordinating with existing city networks to expand the Atlas user base will be essential to ensuring long-term success.