What resilience measures do decision-makers need to make policy decisions?

Diana Bowman, ASU Center for Smart Cities and Regions

"Thanks to [this] metric research and dashboards, we were able to overcome common obstacles to data-driven mission management and transform ourselves into a more data-centric organization."

- Dominic Papa, President, Smart State Initiatives, Arizona Commerce Authority


The Greater Phoenix Smart Region ("The Connective") was launched in March 2019 for the purpose of improving quality of life for the 4.5 million residents living and working within Maricopa County. In doing so, the Connective brings together leadership from 22 cities and towns, higher education institutions, a regional planning authority, economic development organizations, a local not-for-profit and the private sector for the purposes of identifying and addressing key regional challenges.

Since its establishment, its leadership has worked hard to determine the most significant challenges facing the region. An in-depth roadmap suggested that mobility, access to sustainable water, energy solutions, and air quality were four of the most pressing challenges being faced by the region. Yes despite the need to make critical policy decisions and investments in addressing these challenges, very few of the cities and towns had access to metrics and key performance indicators necessary to make informed decisions for building out a smart and resilient region. This project sought to address that gap.

Research questions

  • What current platforms exist for cities to report key performance indicators, and what is the primary focus of those metrics?

  • What are the most important resilience metrics for the Greater Phoenix region when it comes to resilience-building decision-making?

  • How do resilience metrics align with sustainable development goals and international standards?

Methods and findings

This project was initiated in July 2020 in response to a need identified by Connective leadership. During the month of July, four law school interns worked with members of the Connective to identify metrics that the affiliated cities and towns believed would provide valuable information that they could use in their decision-making. These metrics included those relating to economic activity, public health and safety, equity, sustainability and resilience.

In parallel with this activity, a member of the KER team identified 154 metrics associated with the Sustainable Development Goals. Themes included, for example, transportation, food security, digital access, smart buildings / energy / water, and environment and climate change. These were then mapped, where possible, to existing standards published by the International Organization for Standardization. Given the nature of this project, the metrics of interest were narrowed to resilience and sustainability metrics — of which there were 50.

Eleven cities within the Connective are members of the Valley Benchmarking Cities (VBC), a regional consortium focused on improving government performance. VBC has its own data dashboard, but data reported to the VBC is geared toward improving performance and innovation within the public sector and are not resilience measures.

Finding no overlap, the project is now focused on narrowing down the list of resilience metrics that shall be the most beneficial to decision-makers in the region and identifying the source of this data.


  • Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

  • Center for Smart Cities and Regions, School for the Future of Innovation in Society

  • The Connective (under the umbrella of the Partnership for Economic Innovation)

  • Arizona Commerce Authority

  • Valley Benchmarking Cities (Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise and Tempe)

  • British Standards Institute


Access to reliably measured metrics will allow city and town governments to make informed, forward-thinking decisions in all aspects of municipal governance. By providing a discrete list of tailored metrics, this project will ensure that legislators, executives and managers at all levels of local government have access to easily digestible data that reflects the real world resilience and weaknesses of their municipality. The benefits of this data-driven decision-making to the communities served cannot be understated. Those benefits can even extend beyond the initial end-users as they become models for a system of data collection, publication and utilization that will later be followed by other municipalities to improve their own resilience frameworks.

The particular importance of bringing this project to life in the Greater Phoenix region is simple:  mitigating the loss of scarce natural resources in the form of water, ensuring continued and reliable access to energy (particularly during summer months when heat leads inescapably to grid-breaking demand), and further cementing Arizona and the Phoenix metropolitan area's position as a leader in smart and sustainable city initiatives.


Bowman developed a user-friendly dashboard where decision-makers and residents alike can access metric data regarding resilience and resilience efforts in the cities and towns party to this initiative. The dashboard presents complex datasets in an easily digestible format using headline-style synopses, concise explanations, visual aids like graphs and tables, and links to view or download the complete datasets. This ensures access to information while simultaneously mitigating the intimidation many users may feel when confronted by raw datasets and statistical analysis of this magnitude.

Diana Bowman

A Portrait of Diana Bowman

Co-director and Associate Professor
ASU Center for Smart Cities and Regions; School for the Future of Innovation in Society

Impact Scholar 2022–2024; Academic Fellow 2021

Dr. Diana Bowman is a Professor of Law in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, where she serves as the Associate Dean for Applied Research and Engagement, and the School for the Future of Innovation and Society, at Arizona State University. Diana is a Co-Director of the Center for Smart Cities and Regions at ASU, the ASU lead, and member of the Executive Leadership team, for The Connective — the first smart region in the United States. Diana is also an Andrew Carnegie Fellow (2018). Diana’s research has primarily focused on the legal and policy issues associated with emerging technologies including, for example, nanotechnologies, CRISPR and autonomous vehicles. Diana’s second pillar of work is within the sphere of public health law and policy, with a particular focus on road safety, assisted reproductive technologies and water safety. She has published over 130 peer reviewed journal papers and chapters and is the co-editor of 10 books. Her work has appeared in leading journals such as Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Materials, Law & Policy and Regulation & Governance. In addition to her research and teaching, Diana has worked extensively with external organizations such as the Australian Government, the World Economic Forum, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the Energy Retailers Association of Australia on the governance of emerging technologies. In 2011 Diana was a member of the Australian Government’s delegation to the United States for the Inaugural Australia-US Science and Technology, Joint Commission Meeting, and between 2010 and 2012 she served as a member of the Prime Minster of Australia’s National Enabling Technologies Strategy Expert Forum (housed within the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research).