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MTS-organized TechSurge at ODU set the stage for a national Pilot Project in Hampton Roads

Eric Jabs

The 3-4 June 2014 “TechSurge” at ODU sponsored by the Marine Technology Society grew into a signature event that has advanced Hampton Roads' collaboration on sea level rise mitigation. Blending government, industry, academia, and community participants, the TechSurge far exceeded original goals (and set attendance records) while serving as a platform to announce an major “whole of government” pilot project that will address the best way to deal with sea level rise for this region. The program attracted primary players from multiple organizations, to include the EPA Administrator, NOAA's Chief Scientist, Navy Admirals, Senior Executives in myriad positions like the National Security Council, along with many local leaders such as Mayor Fraim of Norfolk.

The dynamic agenda included daily kickoffs by ODU's President and Provost, lively dialogs with technical experts, and a panel discussion that helped frame expectations as well as point out gaps in representation that this pilot project must include going forward. ODU's role as facilitator, especially acting through the Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute (MARI), crystalized nicely while also reinforcing the fact that Hampton Roads is a “natural laboratory” for mitigating sea level rise not just because of the physical events occurring here, but the concentration of nationally important facilities. The interdisciplinary group dispersed with a better collective understanding of how data can better be used to define some of the risks in our future, but more importantly, how all these organizations must collaborate in actions now to best weather the storms ahead.

The meeting was opened by Ray Toll, ODU.

A panel discussion on the first day outlined the scope of the Hampton Roads Pilot Project.

The meeting concluded with a speech of Gina McCarthy, the Administrator of EPA.