RISE’s Coastal Community Resilience Challenge

Welcome to RISE’s Coastal Community Resilience Challenge webpage. This Challenge seeks innovative technology-based approaches from anywhere in the world that address any of five resilience topics described below and can be demonstrated in the Hampton Roads region of Southeastern Virginia. Like other coastal areas, this region faces significant impacts from sea level rise and recurrent flooding.

Our Challenge encourages teams from all over the world to address the well-defined issues of a specific coastal community, Hampton Roads, but with a view to scaling and replicating the solution to other similar communities globally.

RISE has over US$1M in its Resilience Innovation Fund to support solutions that enhance the resilience of coastal communities. RISE will offer the opportunity, subject to due diligence review, to receive funds to qualifying teams. RISE provides applicants access to data and/or background information for each topic and will also provide access to regional Subject Matter Experts.

We are reaching out to the global community and are excited to welcome teams from the MIT Solve Global Challenge. The qualified teams participating in the 2018 MIT Solve Global Challenge will have the opportunity to compete for support from the RISE Resilience Innovation Fund. If you are interested in participating in the MIT Solve Global Challenge, please register here.

The Coastal Community Resilience Challenge is open to all eligible teams. If you are interested in participating in the Coastal Community Resilience Challenge outside of Solve, please register your interest here.

In order to aid applicants in their solutions, RISE has developed specific descriptions of problems and threats specific to each topic. More supporting explanations and data will be added to the table below over time. Each of these problems has an actual occurrence in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, U.S. RISE encourages participants to also consider the applicability of their solutions to other regions of the world.

Date updated: March 1, 2018

SubtopicDescription of the problemTraditional approaches that
have not worked and why
Develop cost-effective management of ground- storm- and/or tidal water, either as affordable short-term mitigations or low-maintenance long-term options in urban environments with high water tables.The urban watershed management problem combines the following:

  • tidal flooding overtopping seawalls

  • tidal flooding tailwater in stormwater pipes producing flooding inland

  • aging and undersized stormwater infrastructure limiting effective drainage

  • high water table/groundwater limiting ability to store water underground

  • urban environment limiting access to existing infrastructure or new infrastructure installation

Low elevations combined with high water table results in weak flow through the system.

For example, large pumps, pump stations, valves, and outfalls are often employed at outfalls, but they are very costly to build, operate, and maintain making them not viable solutions to many cities. They also may not solve the flow limitations due to undersized stormwater pipes upstream. The capital replacement cost of the pumps themselves constitute well over 50% of the infrastructure maintenance costs.

These can be an unmanageable burden for a city, and an opportunity for lower cost, autonomous, technology to play a role.

In addition, methods of stormwater storage in high water table environments are limited, and new approaches are required.
Propose big data analytics, integration, and accessibility for multiple applications to help coastal community stakeholders maintain public safety, meet logistics needs, protect property, as well as enhance quality of life among other applications.To reduce the risk of living on the coast and adapt to more frequent disruptions, coastal communities should utilize data and new sensor networks to improve their ability to:

  • prepare for, respond to, & recover from disruptions

  • navigate in an urban environment flooded by tidal and stormwater

  • navigate emergency vehicles around obstacles/impassable roadways/underpasses

  • interface real-time and forecast awareness of flooding (and other environmental conditions) with new technologies in a 3-5 year time horizon (e.g., smart city data, self-driving/autonomous vehicles and traffic control, etc.)

Data may not be integrated into user decision-making flow e.g., Waze may not know water depth at a given urban intersection.

Data is not integrated into actionable real-time and/or forecast guidance/information for residents, businesses, and emergency services.

Data may not be in a form or available for use by new technologies (e.g., autonomous cars and other artificial intelligence).
Maintain the viability of existing buildings facing flood risks. What are the structural or non-structural alternatives beyond traditional approaches such as costly house elevation that individual homeowners could buy that protects buildings for 15 - 30 years in the flood environment, or that are cost effective protections against the higher frequency, lower magnitude recurrent flooding?Housing/buildings on flood plains experience different levels of flooding. Some buildings may experience several feet of flooding and may require substantial modification in order to remain viable (e.g., raising of the building itself by several feet). Other may only experience a few inches (6-8 inches) and minor modifications may be required to avoid the costs of damage.Raising a house is expensive and typically reserved for extreme cases and for buildings whose value greatly exceeds the cost of raising. Costs are typically paid for by the government, the homeowner, or the insurance companies. This is not a solution that is readily applied to large numbers of homes or buildings in a city.

The high cost of raising the house is not practical for those buildings experiencing relatively small depths (e.g., 8" or less) of flooding. However a large number of a city's housing/buildings could be protected from this lower level of flooding provided cost effective solutions were available, even if the protection was just temporary during a flood.
How to re-establish and maintain critical systems functionality to a defined critical urban facility. Propose portable systems deployable within 2 hours and able to provide 72 hours of continuous functionality to critical services.Critical functionality needs vary for different actors during shocks/acute events but at minimum include the following:

  • Electricity

  • Potable water and wastewater management

  • Cell phone communications

  • Internet access

The need is to bring full functionality to the following within 2 hours for 72 hours:

  • A 250 bed Level I trauma center hospital

  • Outpatient facilities

  • Ports IT and communications center, cranes

  • City infrastructure such as pumps and communications

These entities are necessary for a city/community to recover quickly or to prevent events from cascading into a greater chaos during major disruptions.

It is also important to take into account the placement of this equipment prior to an event so that it can be put into service quickly and with minimal additional disruption.
Typically, electrical power is provided by solar power, batteries, or gas/diesel generators (or a combination of all) for limited functionality of a facility during a disruption. For example, heating or air-conditioning may be available for only parts of a facility, or internet and other communications access may be limited. This can cause cascading problems; e.g., lack of air conditioning may lead to condensation damage or mold in some parts of a building, irregular or limited communications may hinder a city's emergency management, or a company's IT facility may be shut down for a period stopping the company from operating.

This subtopic will define the needs of several complete units (hospitals, outpatient clinics, a city facility, etc.), which require complete functionality to be restored within 2 hours of a disruptions and will run continuously for 72 hours.

Requirements will be defined for each facility and posted here in the updates.
Enhance the economic prosperity of low/moderate income urban neighborhoods which have been disconnected physically, economically and digitally from the rest of a thriving city.Urban development can often result in some low income communities being physically cut off from the surrounding city by highways, vacant land and other barriers. This often contributes to a cycle of low skill jobs, poverty, and lack of economic prosperity for the neighborhood, residents, and the city as a whole. This situation is often exacerbated by the lack and unaffordability of basic modern services (e.g., internet broadband, and access to convenient affordable transportation).Adding traditional city services (e.g., roads, bus routes and frequencies) increases a city's costs and may not benefit the neighborhood residents. Advances in communications, ride-sharing services, and remote-working apps may counter many of the effects of the physical disconnection of a neighborhood, and make living and thriving there a more viable and an economically sustainable option.

RISE Resilience Innovation Fund

In order foster and support innovation in resilience, RISE will utilize part of its federal CDBG-NDR funds to administer its Resilience Innovation Fund. The Innovation Fund is in the process of establishing its evaluation procedures. It will begin accepting applications for funding in the summer of 2018. More details will become available nearer that time.

Eligibility criteria:

The criteria below represent a sample of the eligibility criteria. In order to be eligible for funding from the RISE Resilience Innovation Fund, you must, at a minimum:

  • meet the definition of small business as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration,
  • be a for profit or non-profit business that has a DUNS number, is registered on sam.gov, and is eligible to receive U.S. federal funds
  • demonstrate the solutions in the Hampton Roads region of Southeastern Virginia, U.S., and
  • adhere to applicable administrative requirements, as outlines in 2 CFR 200 (U.S. Code of Federal Regulations).

RISE is willing to provide guidance and answer your questions on the above bullets. There will also be a due diligence review process. Final eligibility criteria will be posted to this website and provided to all interested applicants.

If you are interested in developing solutions to any of our sub-topics and would like more detailed information