Storm Resilience Web-Based Platform Funded by DCA Will Be Highlighted Tomorrow on National Television
Video Story about NJcoast Will Air on NBC during Halftime of the
Notre Dame vs. Vanderbilt Football Game on September 15
TRENTON, NJ – A storm resilience tool funded by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy will be featured in a video story that will broadcast nationally tomorrow on the NBC television network during halftime of the Notre Dame vs. Vanderbilt football game. The NJcoast web-based platform allows local officials to quickly access reliable, real-time data on hazards such as wind, waves, and surge so they can make better informed decisions before an impending storm and take action to help save lives and mitigate property damage.
NJcoast was developed in partnership with the University of Notre Dame’s College of Engineering and Center for Research Computing and the University of Buffalo and funded through DCA’s Statewide and Regional Planning Assistance Grant program, which was launched in 2015 to support projects aimed at reducing the risk of injury to residents and massive damage to property as a result of a natural disaster.
“We recognize the difficult challenges that local decision makers faced during Superstorm Sandy in trying to predict the best way to protect the community from storm surge and flooding without the critical information that NJCoast will now provide,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, DCA Commissioner. “By funding storm resilience projects such as NJcoast, we are giving our communities state-of-the-art tools they can confidently use to better prepare for powerful storms.”
NJcoast provides municipalities with several capabilities:
- Brings geospatial data right to local officials’ computers, tablets, or iPads with no special software or technical training required;
- Gives municipalities access to the same geospatial web environment used by the World Bank, United Nations, and U.S. State Department;
- Consolidates into one location a municipality’s data, as well as data maintained by the N.J. Office of Geographic Information Services;
- Gives local officials the ability to rapidly simulate the impact of impending hurricanes and nor’easters on their communities – based on their town’s exact location and topography – with exceptional accuracy; and
- Allows users to evaluate “what if” and “worst case scenario” storm simulations that can be used to inform longer-term resiliency planning initiatives.
“NJcoast puts critical information in the hands of emergency managers and first responders as they work to prepare for and respond to natural disasters,” said Tracy Kijewski-Correa, PhD, M. ASCE, a civil engineer and professor in both the College of Engineering and the School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. “We took NJcoast very seriously, because we knew that every figure, every plot, every piece of data that we collected and made available in the system was going to be used to make decisions that could cost someone their life, but we know now will protect their lives.”
The NJcoast development team led by Dr. Kijewski-Correa worked closely with two pilot communities – Berkeley Township in Ocean County and the Borough of Keansburg in Monmouth County – to understand the challenges they face, the data of greatest value to them, their decision-making processes, and their capacity to produce and maintain geospatial data and incorporated this feedback into the project.
This summer, Keansburg and Berkeley Township beta tested the application, and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management has since implemented NJcoast across New Jersey.
“We’re hoping that we’re now going to have a tool in our hands that we can predict exactly based on past storms where the likely problem areas are going to be,” said Ed Striedl, CFM, a Construction Code Enforcement Officer and Floodplain Manager for Keansburg.
DCA’s Statewide and Regional Planning Assistance Grant program is funded with Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) monies the federal government allocated to New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy to assist with recovery and resiliency. Aside from the University of Notre Dame and University of Buffalo, the program awarded grants to Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark to fund applied research projects directed at disaster resiliency.
Established in 1967, DCA was created to improve state services to local government; address the issues at the time of urban decline and suburban development; and secure federal funds to fight poverty. Today, the Department offers a wide range of programs and services, including affordable housing production, fire safety and building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery.