Smarter Joplin Roadmap

Using Technology to Improve Disaster Resilience


On May 22, 2011, Joplin, Missouri (“City”) was devastated by a massive EF5 tornado. The tornado cut a path of destruction nearly 13 miles through the heart of the community, killing 161 people, destroying thousands of dwellings and hundreds of businesses, and impacting more than 30% of Joplin residents. Faced with the impact of this disaster, in 2015, the City of Joplin approved its disaster recovery Capital Plan which allocated approximately $111 million (of a total $158 million provided to the city) of Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The projects under the Capital Plan have helped in the development of a leading disaster recovery program for the City of Joplin. The Guidehouse team served as Grant Administrators for the recovery and rebuilding effort, guiding the City through the entire process.


To become resilient to natural disasters, as well as adaptable and receptive to economic and social changes in the 21st century, Joplin and other cities must address global trends like:

  • Increased urbanization and population demographics shift to larger cities
  • Scarcity of resources and materials across the region
  • Rapidly evolving technology that disrupts industries, businesses, and the general public’s daily lives
  • Addressing unique technology needs of different demographic populations, ranging from Gen Z to Baby Boomers
  • Economic influence of concentration of population exacerbating inequality

To accomplish these goals, Guidehouse worked with the City of Joplin to develop the Smarter Joplin Roadmap, a plan to use technology to help implement Joplin’s disaster resiliency efforts, advance future economic development opportunities, and support improved quality of life factors. The roadmap was informed by interviews with city department heads and 40 stakeholder groups across the private and non-profit sectors to gain a better understanding of Joplin-specific challenges and areas of opportunity to make Joplin a “Smarter” City.

With this input, Guidehouse and the City created a ten-year timeline to implement Smarter Joplin initiatives over the short, medium, and long term. These initiatives include expanded internet access, the creation of an Innovation District, installment of smart streetlights and sewer/flood management sensors, adoption of a traffic management system/smart lights, and use of predictive analytics for more efficient city operations. Central to the success of these initiatives is a strong governance and funding structure, as well as a focus on privacy and cybersecurity.


By garnering input from key stakeholders and using leading technologies to make Joplin “smarter”, the City continues to improve its disaster resilience while sowing additional trust in the community. These changes enable Joplin to build on its momentum from the Tornado recovery to move towards increased resiliency, sustainable economic development, and enhanced quality of life. But by amplifying social and public services, building community, and enhancing agility, digital inclusion helps build resilience on a deeper level than disaster response alone. Joplin plans to extend beyond its traditional industries of mining and manufacturing to attract remote workers, entrepreneurs, and the technology industry. 

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