The Hoosier Resilience Index Readiness Assessment provides a method for a local government to evaluate its preparedness for climate risks, and to identify and prioritize next step actions to increase community readiness.
The Readiness Assessment is available to the public on the Readiness Assessment tab as a downloadable PDF, but only a local government representative in a county or incorporated city or town in Indiana can complete the Assessment and submit it to the Environmental Resilience Institute to receive extreme heat readiness, extreme precipitation readiness, and floodplain land use readiness scores.
Receiving the Assessment
To receive their community's tailored Readiness Assessment, local government employees and officials need to request access through the Readiness Assessment tab. Participating communities should identify one local official or local government employee to serve as the point of contact. Each point of contact will be responsible for collecting responses to the questions in the assessment, and submitting them through their community’s unique web address.
When a point of contact requests access to their community’s tailored Readiness Assessment, the Environmental Resilience Institute will respond with an email containing a link to the unique web address along with instructions for completing the assessment. The questions on the unique web address appear one at a time and are navigable by section and impact through links positioned at the bottom of each page. The point of contact will also receive a link to a webpage where all of the questions contained within the tailored Readiness Assessment can be saved as a PDF to enable local governments to view all questions at once. This printable PDF can be used to collect responses from employees across departments. Responses can be entered into the website as collected or all at once at the end.
There is no time limit for completing the Readiness Assessment, and the questions can be answered in any order. Responses will be saved if a user closes the tab or browser and returns later.
What's in the Readiness Assessment?
There are 79 questions in the Readiness Assessment, but not all questions will be posed to every community. Participating communities will receive a set of questions that is tailored to their size, type of government, and location in relation to the floodplain.
The questions are divided into eight sections:
Energy and Public Utilities
Food and Agriculture
Planning and Land Use
Public Health and Safety
Each section, or “worksheet”, contains between one and four climate change impacts. Each impact includes between one and seven actions that local governments can take to mitigate or prepare for each impact.
Each action is posed as a question with six response options: five that reflect increasing attentiveness to the particular issue and a sixth, which can be selected if the responder feels the question is not applicable to their community. The first five answers will be scored 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5; a score of 1 means the community has not thought about the issue at all, a score of 5 means the community is comprehensively addressing the issue, and 2-4 reflect increasing levels of planning and action in between.
The responder should select the description that best aligns with the programming and other initiatives that exist within the local government’s operations or geographic jurisdiction. If not all statements within a description are true for the community, the responder should select a lower level or a description that best reflects the community’s level of preparedness. In this way, the questions not only allow a community to assess its current state of preparedness for a particular impact; they also provide a specific roadmap for how the community can increase its preparedness. If a responder indicates that the question is not applicable, there will be a comments box in which to provide an explanation.
What's not in the Readiness Assessment?
Just as the Readiness Assessment does not provide every action that could be taken to prevent or alleviate climate change impacts, it also does not address every impact Indiana communities may experience as a result of the changing climate. The Assessment focuses on impacts related to increasing temperatures and more extreme precipitation events because they are significant and widespread, and because of the opportunities local governments have to respond or prepare. The following impacts were not included, but should be considered, if pertinent, by all local governments in Indiana as they prepare their communities for climate change:
Dam failures – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers anticipates dam failures will become more frequent as a result of increased precipitation and the age of most dams across the state. Local governments should be aware of dam locations within their jurisdiction, and the areas at risk of flooding should a dam fail. The local government should have emergency response plans for this type of disaster.
- Landslides, sinkholes, and flooding made worse by bedrock formations – Some parts of Indiana and the Midwest have experienced an increase in sinkholes and landslides, often stemming from increases in precipitation. Bedrock formations influence flooding. The geographic formations, including karst topography, that lead to these events only exist in certain parts of the state. Maps of sinkholes, bedrock formations, and areas at greater risk of landslide are provided in the 2019 Indiana State Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.
The Readiness Assessment does not provide every action that could be taken to prevent or alleviate climate change impacts; instead, the Assessment includes actions that have been identified as the most useful based on feasibility, relevance in the state of Indiana, the technologies available, and the ability of an action to address cascading impacts. All of the actions included have been implemented by one or more local governments in the Midwest and are considered first order responses.
Communities in Indiana are already doing many of the actions included in the Assessment; the Readiness Assessment helps local governments think about how they can integrate resilience into community services already provided, such as increasing street sweeping schedules, addressing emergency flood response in Multi-hazard Mitigation Plans, and educating residents about heat related illness and prevention through the County’s health department or other outlets.
The actions in the Readiness Assessment were identified through individual expertise from academics and practitioners and a review of best practice literature. See the Hoosier Resilience Index Technical Manual for a complete list of references.
Receiving Readiness Scores
To facilitate the submission of responses, it is recommended that points of contacts wait to submit the tailored Readiness Assessment online until all responses are collected.
Upon completion of the Assessment, the user will click “Submit Questionnaire” to receive their scores:
Extreme Heat Readiness Score
Extreme Precipitation Readiness Score
Floodplain Land Use Score
Each score ranges from 1 to 10, and reflects a community’s readiness based on their responses to the questions pertaining to the identified threat. A higher score indicates greater preparedness. Communities without a floodplain will not receive a Floodplain Land Use Score; since river flooding is not a risk within the jurisdiction, this score is not applicable. Scores are not comparable between communities because each city, town, and county completes a unique set of questions in their Readiness Assessment. Scores are presented along with a list of resources to help communities improve their readiness.
The Hoosier Resilience Index can be repeated as often as desired. The unique web address for a community does not change.
Improving Your Scores
The following resources are available to help local governments in Indiana increase their readiness for climate change impacts:
- Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit (ERIT) – ERIT offers a multitude of resources to help local governments in the Midwest prepare for climate change. These resources include funding opportunities organized by state, tools, a list of Midwestern communities with links to their climate-responsive plans, and case studies from Midwestern communities, the majority of which are in Indiana, that have a completed a climate adaptation project.
- Prepared for Environmental Change Webinar Series – These free online trainings take place the second Wednesday of every month from noon to 1pm, covering a broad range of topics relevant to local governments in Indiana. All webinars are recorded and made available for viewing.
- Indiana Sustainable Development Program – This annual program connects local governments, businesses, and nonprofits in Indiana with Indiana University students, who work full-time for 10 weeks over the summer. Students are paid; hosts are asked, but not required, to contribute to their stipends. Applications are usually due the December prior.
Didn’t see what you are looking for? Contact the Environmental Resilience Institute. We know about many more resources not listed here.
Use of Data
Information submitted through the Readiness Assessment and the scores received by each community will not be displayed to the public. Indiana University may use the information to study and report on resilience trends in Indiana, as well as other reasonable purposes consistent with the Environmental Resilience Institute’s mission, including use of such information in public presentations and potential grant applications. Indiana University will not publish a list of ranked communities using the information collected through the Hoosier Resilience Index.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, Indiana University is a state agency subject to the provisions of the Indiana Open Records Law, I.C. 5-14-et-seq., and that disclosure of some or all information provided pursuant to the Readiness Assessment, and the assessment itself, may be compelled pursuant to that law. In the event that Indiana University is required by the Indiana Open Records Act, or any other law, to disclose a community’s information relating to the Readiness Assessment, Indiana University will notify the community, consult with the community regarding whether there are legitimate grounds to narrow or contest such disclosure, and only disclose that information that Indiana University, in the opinion of its legal counsel, is obligated to disclose.
Any questions about data use can be directed to the Environmental Resilience Institute:
Environmental Resilience Institute
717 E 8th Street
Bloomington, IN 47408