Exploring the nexus between infrastructure and social equity in Kansas


How does infrastructure intersect with social equity in Kansas?

This is an imporant research question because the most socially vulnerable people tend to live and work in the most physically vulnerable areas (e.g., floodplains) with undersized or undermaintained infrastructure. 

The ARISE project seeks to better understand these connections using surveys and public data. This information is essential to advancing the resilience of our state’s water, energy, and transportation infrastructure. It will also help to ensure equitable support for rural and urban communities.

Surveying residents

For more than a year, the team has been designing surveys for households and businesses in Kansas, taking time to gather input from a broad range of stakeholders.

The surveys will focus on several areas.

First, they will gather information about people’s past experiences related to disasters and extreme events, shedding light on the differences across income, gender, ethnicity, geographic location, and age.

A host of community perceptions will also be explored in the surveys. For example, the surveys will look at access to infrastructure and related services like food and hospitals. They will measure how willing folks are to pay for infrastructure investments. They will also delve into social norms and networks, political efficacy, quality of life, public health, and other relevant perceptions.

When & where

Residents of Ford, Finney, Seward, Johnson, and Wyandotte counties will see the first wave of surveys very soon. Two subsequent waves will be administered in the next couple years. Having multiple waves helps to shorten the surveys. It also helps researchers understand the multiple dimensions and breadth of social equity within and across Kansas communities.

How & why

To maximize response rates, the team will mail surveys and deliver them in-person, both door-to-door and at community events. Surveys will also be translated for non-English speaking populations.

The team will supplement survey data with a rich set of secondary public data sources. These datasets include:  building footprint data, census and American Community Survey data, tax parcel data, Government Comprehensive Annual Financial Report data, America’s Infrastructure Report Card, ReferenceUSA data, OpenFEMA data, hazard data, mobility data, and relevant GIS data layers.

Collectively these analyses will guide the hazard scenario assessments, infrastructure modeling, and the decision-support design that are all part of the ARISE project.

The data will also be used by the researchers to produce a one-of-a-kind decision-support tool that can enhance disaster resilience in Kansas and provide the fundamental steppingstone for Kansas Board of Regents institutions to seek additional federal research funding to transition Kansas to a Smart State as envisioned in the Kansas Science & Technology plan.

Contact us

To learn more or find ways to support the resilience of your community, contact us by emailing nsfepscor@ku.edu