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Sponsor: National Science Foundation

Amount: $50,000

Period of Performance: 10/01/2022 – 03/31/2023

Investigators: Kelly Stevens, PhD., Yue Ge, PhD., Trenton Marsh, PhD., Zhihua Qu, PhD. & Liqiang Wang, PhD.


The University of Central Florida and its partners, including the City of Orlando, have identified a recurring need for “equitable resilience” in response to climate-related disasters, such as hurricanes, that lead to significant loss of power and connectivity. Historically marginalized groups and lower-income populations have higher energy burdens, less access to generators, and reduced internet access, and are especially susceptible to external shocks that threaten community resilience. For these reasons, this project will co-create a design for an equity-centered, portable resilience hub and education center tailored for Central Florida and the Orlando community. This project calls this a Resilience, Education, and Advocacy Center for Hazard preparedness, or REACH hubs, which will provide pre- and post-disaster necessities and connectivity and serve as hands-on STEM education centers during non-emergency times. In collaboration with state and local governments, multiple community partners, and local youth, this project will use a community-engaged approach to put underserved communities in front of what we do to co-design mutually beneficial REACH hubs. With strategic placement of the REACH hubs in socioeconomically vulnerable parts of Orlando, the proposed hubs will improve disaster response and recovery in a more equitable way. The hubs will contribute to local sustainability goals by operating on clean, solar energy, and the design process will consider how to scale or modify for other hurricane prone, peninsular, or island locations.

The main objectives for the planning grant are to: (1) consider and incorporate diverse community needs in REACH hub design and deployment, (2) develop technical specifications for the solar-powered hub, (3) design sensor data packaging and integration, (4) build a strong interdisciplinary team and research agenda, and (5) scale and modify for other hurricane-prone communities. We will use partner agency and community workshops for collecting community feedback to design all elements of the hubs. This project will also develop a modular design for our resilience hub that will use commercialized technologies of long-duration batteries, cost effective and highly durable PV modules, 5G communication, wireless charging, and user interfaces. Based on existing and planned smart devices in the City of Orlando’s Future-Ready program, this project will use cutting-edge cloud/edge techniques to integrate sensor data related to our REACH hubs, analyze using artificial intelligence techniques, and package for STEM education. In addition, this will create an inventory of existing and planned resilience assets in Central Florida to help inform the prioritization scheme for REACH hub locations.

Contact: Kelly Stevens, PhD. for more information

Principal Investigator

Kelly Stevens, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Public Administration