Disaster Resilient Rural Communities



Under the current Presidential Administration, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has dedicated more than $7.2 billion to broadband projects designed to increased connectivity and Internet access in rural areas.  Little is known, however, about the potential effects of these infrastructure developments for community resiliency among rural communities, especially as it relates to public safety functions, access to information online, and the development of individual and community resiliency among populations at risk of seasonal hazards. It is imperative that the role of online information access on community and individual resilience is studied due to these critical infrastructure investments.


Dr. Jeannette Sutton
Principal Investigator
Trauma, Health and Hazards Center
(719) 255-4128

Dr. Charles Benight
Principal Investigator
Trauma, Health and Hazards Center
(719) 255-4180

Dr. Jessica Lambert
Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Trauma, Health and Hazards Center
(719) 255-3709


mountain fire

This research examines the question “how does access to online information effect the perception of individual and collective resilience in rural communities across all phases of disaster?”  We will investigate the interplay among disaster exposure, individual and family level coping ability perceptions, access to information, and actual behavioral responses to communications from official and other sources to better understand individual and community resilience. The findings from this research will increase knowledge about critical dimensions of rural community resiliency, including community resources, information and communication infrastructures, social capital, and community competence across all phases of disaster, taking into account the individual and community level responses.

Outcomes of this research will include increased knowledge about the role of information access for community resilience leading to the development of recommendations on strategies to link information usage and access across the phases of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, as they affect rural community resilience.

Further reading on DRRC project (pdf)