Colorado Resilience Planning Goes Digital

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (CO DOLA) recently led the development of a guide to help counties and municipalities across the state prepare for and mitigate hazards by integrating resilience and mitigation principles into plans, codes, and standards related to land use and the built environment. Working with an Advisory Committee composed of representatives from state and federal agencies, local government, and other subject-matter experts in hazard mitigation and land use planning, this guide includes information from Colorado’s leading experts and represents varying community sizes, locations, and values. Recognizing that an online resource would both scale to broad audiences and reduce barriers for use, CO DOLA asked UIS to create an interactive website that presents the guide in an intuitive, visual format.

The interactive Planning for Hazards guide distills technical content to assist users in sifting through and processing a wealth of information. Users are offered a variety of options to access the guide on the homepage, allowing them to read through distilled web content linearly, navigate directly to specific sections of the guide, quickly access hazards, tools, and existing community models, or download and print the full PDF. Should the user want to find a specific section at any time, a prominent Table of Contents block is present on every page.

Planning for Hazards focuses primarily on identifying and assessing the risks associated with various hazards in Colorado, the tools and strategies available to help mitigate those risks, and model policies for implementing those tools. As such, UIS designed those three areas of the site to visually connect and reinforce their relationship through the consistent use of icons. Each hazard links to the related tools that can be used to mitigate it, and every tool page identifies the hazards addressed and links to applicable model policy language and commentary. Through these connections, the interactive guide facilitates ongoing use by making it easy to explore and identify the appropriate strategies for individual communities and relevant hazard concerns.

Creating the guide was the first phase of a statewide outreach program related to resilience and hazard mitigation. The Planning for Hazards team has already presented the guide at the American Planning Association’s national conference, and they will also present at a variety of state conferences throughout the year. In addition to hosting regular webinars to introduce the guide, the team is emphasizing distribution via academic and agency channels to ensure the resource is available to those who most need it.

The next phase of the project will include pilot implementation projects, using the guide as a tool to provide technical assistance and facilitation to select Colorado communities to help them develop relevant mitigation or response programming or regulations. These pilot projects will help the Planning for Hazards team assess the effectiveness and utility of the guide, ensuring that it stays current and applicable to the agencies that it is designed to support.