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Data-Driven Disaster Response & Recovery in Houston

Houston, TX

The City of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department used a data platform and set of analysis from Civis Analytics that provided a central source of truth regarding the population and the built environment impacted by the storm.

Topics Covered

Hurricanes & Severe Storms
Stormwater Management
Open Data
Civic Technology
Economic Inequality
Housing & Affordable Housing


Initial: 1 Million USD


Performance Contracting

Project Status

Operational since 2018

Gov Champion

Housing and Community Development Department

Problem Addressed

After Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the City of Houston recognized that Houston needed a more precise understanding of how the storm impacted residents that went beyond FEMA data.

The stakes were high for the City of Houston in accounting for the full costs of the storm on the city’s housing. The City needed innovative methods to accurately plan for and respond to increasingly common and high-impact disasters.

Solutions Used

After the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Civis developed an analytics infrastructure to help the City of Houston do comprehensive data analysis of the flooding impacts.

Using data from a wide range of sources, including public US Census Bureau Data, protected National Flood Insurance Program claims data, and data from the US SBA, Civis was able to estimate physical damages and a wide range of economic impacts after flooding to support recovery efforts and funding requests. The Harvey Data platform, built on the backbone of the Civis Platform, is hosted in a secure environment with differential security access, allowing City stakeholders to have 24/7 access to all data and tools, while stakeholders from local nonprofit organizations and other jurisdictions were provided aggregate data in interactive Tableau visualizations. Because disaster recover shouldn’t wait, Civis put a team on the ground in Houston within one week of project award and started providing deliverables within two weeks. Ultimately developing a complete picture of unmet and met needs for the City within two months.



The City was able to develop a clear understanding of the extent of damage, and how it impacted high-risk populations


The City could respond with concern not just for addressing physical damage, but ensuring that the most-at-risk communities received adequate assistance.


Total residential damages for Harvey were estimated at $16 billion, almost $13 billion of which is not met by federal recovery programs.


The Harvey Data Project showed that there was $3.1 billion worth of damage, contrary to the $1.2 billion predicted damage found via more traditional methods

Who Should Consider

Cities who are looking to prepare for or recover from natural disasters.

Last Updated

Aug 27th, 2019
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