Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Geosciences

Committee Chair

Rebecca Bendick

Commitee Members

Andrew Wilcox, Laurie Yung


natural hazards, science communication, geoscience, software, missoula, montana


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Geographic Information Sciences | Geology | Nature and Society Relations


Earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters are inevitable and costly both in terms of lives lost and money spent on recovery. Scientific research on natural hazards is widely shared within the scientific community, but is less often made more widely accessible, as methods or pathways for providing scientific natural hazard information and data in non-technical language are limited. Priorities for imparting hazard information include: 1) scientific accuracy, 2) spatial granularity, 3) integration of information about all relevant hazards, 4) nontechnical content, 5) appropriate preparedness activities, and 6) engagement with existing disaster response and mitigation capabilities. In response to these priorities, we developed HazardReady, an interactive online application that delivers location-based multihazard risk and preparedness information using graphics and natural language easily understood by nonexpert users. This paper explores the development of the prototype for Missoula County, Montana, U.S.A. called MissoulaReady. The web application is built on spatial data layers corresponding to levels of risk and historical distributions of natural hazards in Missoula County. A web user queries these data by searching on a spatial location, either an address or a map click, for which curated, location-specific, interpreted risk information is then served. We specifically address the steps required to implement all of the priorities identified, including how natural hazard data are collated, modified, and interpreted, as well as methods by which diverse stakeholders were involved in the application’s creation. Focus groups and usage metrics indicate that the application meets criteria of scientific accuracy and usability.



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