Developing a tool for New Orleans’ transport system


During the course of the 2018 Fall semester, the GIS master of Cergy-Pontoise university has developed potential suggestions to help New Orleans manage its exposure to risks and hazards. My team was in charge of the city’s transport system. The article that follows details the tool we aimed to developed to fail the many hazards New Orleans is facing.

 

 

A new tool for transport system

In order to develop a relevant and easy-to-use tool, our team has realized a benchmarking. Our main area of interest is how transport can be affected by a variety of climate and non-climate stressors. Therefore our toll will focus on all types of roads, two means of transport (buses and street car lines) and two main hazards, which are floods and sea level rise. As our tool is organized around two types of element, we have decided to include in our benchmark vulnerability- and transport-related tools. This is also the reason why we have tools that work with really different sets of data as we couldn’t one that was specifically on the vulnerability of transport systems when it comes to hazards.

 

Roadwork

RoadWork is a website developed by the city of New Orleans and available from the municipality website (https://roadwork.nola.gov/home/). It provides information at a very fine scale on the scale of every road in the city. The website has a search bar allowing people to look at the state of a specific road by entering an address. The roads are classified under three settings: the pavement condition from failure to excellent state, the planned road construction ranging from partial to total reconstruction and the roads currently under construction which only has one category. It also offers the solution fo downloading maps for each neighborhood with information regarding the state of road reconstruction.

 

 

Figure 1: Screenshot of Road Word – Pavement Condition

 

The Sea Rise Viewer

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Department of Commerce have put in place a website with a very efficient tool called the Sea Rise Viewer  (https://coast.noaa.gov/slr/?fbclid=IwAR0ELCOR2FDTBX0e4zI70oSLhEUX9eM7YvZhGHD7nlqyA9paRj3VHLSjk7w#/layer/slr/2/-10027409.261803797/3497628.836953778/10/satellite/none/0.8/2050/interHigh/midAccretion).

This tool is really helpful to look at the evolution of a variety of climate phenomenon. It offers a scale with different levels of sea level rise (from one to ten feet) with a map, thanks to which one can see which areas that are the most vulnerable. To understand the damages any level of sea rise could cause, the site has different scenarios that go up to 2100 and detail the potential rise from intermediate low to extreme, each with its own measurement. The site also takes into account absent or imprecise data with a confidence map. The latter represents all uncertain data in orange – in the case of the New Orleans, although the possibility of inundation is really likely, the degree to which it could happen remains uncertain in some areas. Lastly, this tool offers maps on territory vulnerability and the probability of high tide flooding. However it is not possible to add layers onto other which it makes it difficult for the final map to be complex and include many elements.

 

Figure 2: Screenshot of Sea Level Rise Viewer – Vulnerability in case of a 2-feet sea level rise

 

The Urban Adaptation Assessment

The Urban Adaptation Assessment is an interactive database directed by Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative and funded by the Kresge Foundation, a philanthropic organization (https://gain-uaa.nd.edu/1/social_equity/). This database offers five climate-related phenomenon (flood, heat, cold, sea level rise and drought) to study the vulnerability of a territory. The latter is determined by different entries for the built environment and social vulnerability, each changing depending on a climatic phenomenon. This tool is very interesting and compiles relevant information in order to produce complex and relevant maps and analysis to understand the vulnerability of territories across the US. For each territory, the tool offers a risk rating and a preparedness rating.

Figure 3: Screenshot of the Urban Adaptation Assessment – Vulnerability of buildings built (built environment) before 1999 in case and single mothers in case of flood

 

 

The Climate Explorer Tool

Lastly, the Climate Explorer Tool also offers multiple options (https://climate-explorer.nemac.org/?tp=g_a&center=-9880870.0,3315809.7&zoom=7&p=L&layers=aam:1&center=-9794333.4,3348020.4&zoom=7&p=L&layers=aam:1,aax:1). It’s an interactive website as well, and it offers the possibility to put layers onto others like the previous tool we mentioned. It is really interesting and explanations are available for each feature and scale. However, it is sometimes a bit tricky to differentiate the different sets of information without a legend.

Figure 4: Screenshot of the Climate Explorer Tool – coastal flood hazard composite and social vulnerability index

 

Our tool : New Orleans transports’ vulnerability tool

Now that we’ve seen the tools already available on the market, we can define the tool we would like to implement. Our aim is to develop a New Orleans’ vulnerability tool. This would consist in a website which would assess New Orleans’ transports’ vulnerability. in order to do so, we have decided to focus on two means of transportation that are buses lines (because they are public and use the most common roads), and streetcar lines (because they would be very sensible to any flood as they work with electricity). The main hazards the tool will be observing are floods (because they are likely to happen from a the three lakes in and around the New Orleans, the Mississippi and as a result of a hurricane), and hurricanes, two phenomena growing in magnitude and frequency because of climate change.

 

Figure 5: A prototype of our tool

On the picture above, we have added the different features our tool would include : the state of roads, the rise of sea level, the state of work on roads, different means of public transport and the evacuation spots and hazards. Those resources can be found in the form of maps at the beginning of our report. Our idea is to have different layers that could be added onto into each other in order to have a better and more complex view of the city’s situation. All those elements would lead to different political and environmental recommendations that would help the city to be more aware and prepared when it comes to hazards and vulnerability.

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