Hack City

How can we prepare SF for system failures and natural disasters?

Hack City
Asked by Hack City
Think back to this summer's BART Strike, and try to frame your thinking about the question like this:

In times of stress (i.e., 2013 BART Strike) I want...

to know which roads are gridlocked, so that I am able to avoid them.

to be able to easily coordinate ride shares so that I am not stuck on gridlocked roads when attempting to conduct my business as usual.

In times of stress (i.e., major earthquake) I want...

easy access to food + energy +water so that I can continue to live a normal life, while government agencies reset our systems.

to know when a power outage affects me and when it will be restored, so that I can find other ways to meet my needs.


In the last decade, the U.S. has dramatically increased spending on recovery for disaster events of varying size and scope (e.g. Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, Greensburg Kansas, Haiti earthquake). In a recent Mother Jones piece, journalist Kate Sheppard warns, "with every year that goes by without shifting the incentives, both the costs and the future fiscal liabilities [for these kinds of events] get larger." Sheppard goes on, speaking on behalf of observers who "believe that after a major disaster, particularly one of Sandy's size and scope, there's a window—maybe six months, maybe a year—for a real shift in direction."

Taking advantage of that 6-12 month window will be especially important in places like the Bay Area, where there are not only are there significant flood risks, but also the threat of a significant earthquake in the next 30 years. Events like Hurricanes Katrina (New Orleans, 2005) and Sandy (New York, 2012) highlight our need for resiliency plans that ensure that urban dwellers are able to conduct business as usual (or as close to) in the event of a disaster (natural or otherwise).

The growth of modern technology has enabled the luxury of a "just-in-time" supply chain across all business. Gone are the days of supply chains with wiggle room in order to deal with disruption.

With this in mind, we ask participants to consider the following question, at the upcoming Hack City Data Jam:

“How can we use technology to support key agencies that are charged with advancing sustainable residential and business behavior on a daily basis to be able to scale up and meet the challenges that a large systems blockage (e.g. BART Strike) or regional disaster will generate (e.g. Loma Prieta Earthquake -1989)?”

Tell us some of the things that you want.

Photo Credit: Business Insider

Participants (67) All

Alan Joseph Williams
Luke Bornheimer
Elias Zamaria
Eckhart Beatty
Sally Yee
C. Alaric Moore
Hugo Ahlberg
Youna Yang
Bruce Wolfe
Lava Mae
Hack City


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