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Project Leader: Dr. J. R. Marti

Tel:  1.604.822.2364
Fax: 1.604.822.5949
E-mail: jrms@ece.ubc.ca

project description

"First priority during disaster situations is, and should be, human survival"

Imagine a lovely afternoon stroll back to the office after a leisurely lunch. Suddenly the earth shudders. Everywhere is the sound of breaking glass, metal scraping metal, walls falling. Car alarms drown out screaming. A fallen power line ignites a broken gas main. Electrical, telecommunication and transportation systems all grind to a halt. Hospitals and emergency services are unable to cope as the city succumbs to the chaos of disaster. This is exactly the kind of scenario that the new Joint Infrastructure Interdependencies Research Program (JIIRP) aims to avoid. Most major infrastructure companies have well defined internal plans of how to deal with emergencies, but there is no enough development in coordinating these plans. In a situation such as an earthquake, tsunami or terrorist attack, the disaster response of all essential services and utilities must be coordinated in real-time to minimize loss of life and damage to communities. In this context the decision-making processes need to be modelled considering the non-linear highly dynamic evolution of the crisis scenario.

A better understanding of critical interdependencies among core infrastructures is one of the most important requirements to mitigate the impact of extreme events and improve survivability. This knowledge allows implementing effective dynamic islanding schemes. This dynamic segmentation of critical infrastructures helps to assign valuable and limited recovery resources to the most critical areas, while avoiding the propagation of the emergency by cascading collapses of critical infrastructures to neighbour areas. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, forest fires and global disease outbreaks can dramatically impact at first the socio-economic well-being of countries, and in a more serious context, our basic survivability. The extent of the damage resulting from a catastrophe must and can be minimized by the implementation of better preparedness organization and action plans among the National Critical Infrastructures operators at Federal, Provincial and Regional levels.

This project takes a systems engineering approach to the problem of operations coordination among multiple infrastructures in order to minimize the impact of large disasters on human lives and bring the system of infrastructures back to operation as soon as possible. A solution framework in terms of multiple-delay difference equations is formulated to simulate the system of infrastructures in a step-by-step time domain solution suitable for realtime event-driven simulation. The form of the solution allows for dynamic system optimizations in scenario playing and during disaster operations.

The present work is part of an effort by the Government of Canada, through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Public Safety Canada (PS) to fund research to develop innovative ways to mitigate large disaster situations. Our UBC I2Sim (Infrastructures Interdependencies Simulation) group is the largest of six University groups across Canada looking at various aspects of the problem.

I2Sim poster





Last reviewed07-Jun-2007

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