Headshot of Debra Laefer

Debra Laefer, Professor in the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering and the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and Rae Zimmerman, Research Professor and Professor Emerita of Planning and Public Administration at NYU Wagner, are collaborating on a project called UNUM: Unification for Underground Resilience Measures that will work with utility companies, city agencies and consultants to design a roadmap for city-level implementation of a subsurface data model and assemble two pilot data sets to prepare study sites against natural disasters. The project received a $1 million Civic Innovation Challenge Stage 2 award, funded by National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security. See below for more information on this impressive achievement. 

Published by the National Science Foundation.

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. National Science Foundation is announcing $15.9 million in awards to teams comprising civic partners such as local, state, and tribal officials and non-profit and community leaders to conduct and evaluate ready-to-implement pilot projects that address community-identified challenges.

Gaps in equality and natural disasters can have a widespread impact, but the effects are seen and felt most sharply at the community level, when neighbors are the ones suffering. The Civic Innovation Challenge is designed to find community-based solutions to these challenges and make them sustainable, scalable and transferrable to other communities – from large to small and from rural to urban – across the US.

Stage 1 of the Civic Innovation Challenge awarded planning grants to 52 teams across 30 states as well as tribal regions, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. to refine concepts for projects designed to address use-inspired issues in their communities.

In Stage 2, 17 of those teams have been selected for awards of up to $1 million to conduct and evaluate ready-to-implement pilot projects in a 12-month timeframe. Teams will also collaborate across the entire program, sharing approaches and positioning projects to have wider impact.