Social Vulnerability Part 1: How are we vulnerable ?

To better explain the Social Vulnerability Index, we take apart the composite index to show its 15 Census variables components. With our map, readers are asked to change the composition and definition of vulnerability by include and excluding variables. Vulnerability variables can be seen alone or in conjunction with each other. Each variable and combination paint a different map of the city.

For example, let’s take a look at population age in the city in the 3 screen shots of our map below. Concentrations of residents under the age of 18 and over the age of 64 live in different parts of the city. When we join the vulnerability scores derived from these 2 variables together, the vulnerability landscape changes. Areas in parts of the Bronx where there are high concentration of younger residents but lower concentration of older ones are seen as less vulnerable while other parts of city such as Far Rockaway where there are moderate percentages of both age groups are seen as more so.

% Population for vulnerable age groups in New York City
% Population for vulnerable age groups in the Bronx

Other variables for vulnerability make visible the underlying infrastructures that make up the city. When vehicle availability is mapped as a vulnerability variable, the resulting map below presents a radiating pattern. Rather than showing the lack of vehicles as a limitation, the map highlights many of the areas where vehicles are not a necessity because of the availability of public transportation and amenities.

% Households with no Vehicle Available in New York City

Each vulnerability variable paints a different picture of the city. Combining multiple variables can serve to further highlight the perceived vulnerability of an area while suppressing others. Given our 15 predetermined Census variables, ²¹⁵ or 32,768 different ways to paint this map are possible.

Please use this map to explore the composition of the Social Vulnerability Index and to get to know the city through its lens.



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