Data Set Enables Finer View of U.S. Social Vulnerability to Disasters
This summer has seen a spate of extreme climate-related events, from record high temperatures to forest fires, floods, and severe storms. Climate and other natural and manmade hazards do not affect all populations equally. Some sub-populations are particularly vulnerable to their effects owing to factors such as low income, lower levels of education, poor housing, or historical inequalities. Parsing out the fine-grained layers of social conditions across the strata of society—how much money people make, who makes up their households, minority status, ability to understand English, dwelling places, and access to transport—can provide the fundamental elements needed to quantify social vulnerability to hazards in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), created by the Geospatial Research, Analysis, and Services Program (GRASP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), has long been a key resource for local officials to identify communities that may need support before, during, or after hazardous events or disease outbreaks.
To increase the utility of the SVI data set, the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN gridded the input data and removed uninhabited areas. The resulting data set, the U.S. Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) Grids, enables calculation of the SVI for user-defined areas, facilitating integration with hazard and other geospatial data. The gridded SVI data set uses the same four themes as the CDC/ATSDR index—Socioeconomic, Household Composition and Disability, Minority Status and Language, and Housing Type and Transportation—to rank communities on vulnerability for the entire United States. The SVI data set is based on inputs at the census-tract level for 15 variables for the years 2000, 2010, 2014, 2016, and 2018, and aligns with the Gridded Population of the World (GPW) data set, SEDAC′s flagship data collection.
A map gallery includes an overall SVI map and four maps visualizing each of the themes. Development of the gridded data set and maps was led by Carolynne Hultquist, post-doctoral research scientist at CIESIN.
U.S. Social Vulnerability Index Grids, v1 (2000, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2018)