In May 2020, the New York City (NYC) Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency (MOCR) began convening bi-weekly discussions, called the Rapid Research and Assessment (RRA) Series, between City staff and external experts in science, policy, design, engineering, communications, and planning. The goal was to rapidly develop authoritative, actionable information to help integrate resiliency into the City’s COVID response efforts. The situation in NYC is not uncommon. Extreme events often require government officials, practitioners, and citizens to call upon multiple forms of scientific and technical assistance from rapid data collection to expert elicitation, each spanning more or less involved engagement.
We compare the RRA to similar rapid assessment efforts and reflect on the nature of the RRA and similar efforts to exchange and co-produce knowledge. The RRA took up topics on social cohesion, risk communication, resilient and healthy buildings, and engagement, in many cases strengthening confidence in what was already known but also refining the existing knowledge in ways that can be helpful as the pandemic unfolds. Researchers also learned from each other ways to be supportive of the City of New York and MOCR in the future. The RRA network will continue to deepen, continue to coproduce actionable climate knowledge, and continue to value organizational sensemaking as a usable climate service, particularly in highly uncertain times. Given the complex, rare, and, in many cases, unfamiliar context of COVID-19, we argue that organizational sensemaking is a usable climate service.
Authors: Nora Kyrkjebo, Adam Parris, Janice Barnes, Illya Azaroff, Deborah Balk, Ana Isabel Baptista, Christian Braneon, William Calabrese, Treston Codrington, Jessica Colon, Farzana Gandhi, Maureen George, Peter Groffman, Justin Gundlach, Rachel Hogan Carr, Nancy Holt, Radley Horton, Arthee Jahangir, Bobuchi Ken-Opurum, Kim Knowlton, Robin Leichenko, Nicole Maher, Peter Marcotullio, Thomas Matte, Katherine McComas, S. Kyle McKay, Timon McPhearson, Richard Moss, Guy Nordenson, Thaddeus Pawlowski, Nicholas Rajkovich, Kevin A. Reed, Laurie Schoeman, John Shapiro, Danielle Spiegel-Feld, John Tchen, Joel Towers and Gernot Wagner
Published in: Journal of Extreme Events, Vol. 08, No. 02 (2021)