Flood risk and damage are expected to increase in the Pacific Northwest due to climate change. Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) is a remote sensing technology that generates high-resolution topographic data and can therefore produce higher accuracy floodplain maps, an important tool that communities use to assess their flood risk. Despite the promise of lidar for flood risk mitigation, both the availability of lidar data and the use of that data when available varies across the U.S. What factors drive the adoption of technology, such as lidar, for flood risk management? How can we better promote the use of technologies when available? Previous research has identified the importance of various factors in flood risk management, such as risk perception, direct experience, and knowledge of future risk. However, relatively little attention has been paid to how peer influence impacts an individual’s choices about how to manage risk. In this study, we examine the adoption of lidar by flood risk managers for risk mitigation, as a function of several factors including risk perception, direct experience, and social networks. We conducted semi-structured interviews with flood risk managers in Idaho to inform the development of an online survey for flood risk managers in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Using this survey, we found that flood risk managers who share information with others using lidar are also more likely to use lidar themselves. Furthermore, the more frequently these flood managers communicate, the stronger this peer influence is. This research demonstrates the potential for harnessing social networks to help communities more effectively adapt to changing flood risk hazards.
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Pozzi, Tara and Hillis, Vicken. (2023). "Social Networks Impact Flood Risk Mitigation Behavior: A Case Study of Lidar Adoption in the Pacific Northwest, US". Climate Risk Management, 41, 100527. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crm.2023.100527