Elise Miller-Hooks

RIPS: Quantifying Disaster Resilience of Critical Infrastructure-based Societal Systems with Emergent Behavior and Dynamic Interdependencies

Project 49

This project will create analytical capabilities to support the quantification of resilience to multiple hazards of critical infrastructure-based societal systems (CISSs) that are necessary for community functioning. A CISS is comprised of interdependent buildings that together serve a community function and that are dependent on networks of critical lifelines (water, wastewater, power, natural gas, communications and cyber, and transportation). They are a family of structures that are linked by occupancy type, people, policies, information, geographic location, and/or building services, and thus also rely on human, organizational, political, and cyber links. Examples of CISS include, but are not limited to a school district, a healthcare delivery system, government buildings, a university campus, hospitality facilities, a residential building stock or a central business district. The impact of a single or compound hazard event on the CISS is realized through several mechanisms. First, there is the initial loss of system components due to physical damage and lack of information. This damage can propagate across the CISS or its supporting lifelines as a result of interdependencies between system or subsystem elements. Next, changes to the structure of interdependencies between system elements and across subsystems are created dynamically through human intervention, emergent organizational behaviors and policy changes. Finally, recovery through repair efforts or adaptations taken to circumvent damaged subsystems can diminish the impact of the hazard event. The developed framework and specific techniques will be demonstrated on one type of CISS: a healthcare system. Insights gleaned from the application of developed techniques can be applied to improve, build, and maintain communities that are more likely to withstand disruption or disaster. This effort will directly inform practicing healthcare managers and emergency planners.

The project is unique in that it will incorporate public policy, organizational policy, emergent organizational behaviors and risk communication considerations into a broader quantitative assessment of disaster resilience under multiple hazard types. An integrated approach will be used to characterize the role of adaptive organizational behaviors and human interventions in interdependency dynamics. The project will seek to understand and model the mechanisms by which organizational behaviors emerge and evolve during a disaster event. Moreover, it will study the potential mechanisms for nonlinear escalation in damage impact evolution in cyber systems, including resulting vulnerabilities to follow-on attacks, and approaches to prevent such escalation. Such approaches include risk communications strategies, security systems and protocols, and other adaptive actions. How organizations interact to rhetorically construct and frame perceptions of reality, and how this can shift or change how a response to disaster unfolds will be studied and the impact of strategic communication on resilience will be measured. The analytical framework will require dynamic fault-tree analysis and modeling of complex, adaptive systems with probabilistic and time-varying system states and dynamically changing interdependencies. It will address the need for a computational framework for a large-scale dynamic and probabilistic model with significant dimensionality concerns. Additionally, educational and outreach tasks are aimed at strengthening the pipeline of women in STEM fields at multiple education and career stages by adopting a "360" mentorship philosophy that will foster training of female scientists of all ages to be high-caliber mentors.

Award Period:
Aug. 2014-Aug. 2019
Source of Funding:
National Science Foundation

George Mason University (lead institution)

University of Maryland: Brooke Fisher Liu (Co-PI)

Johns Hopkins University: Judy Mitrani-Reiser (PI), Matt Green (Co-PI), Helaine Rutkow (Senior Investigator), Tom Kirsch (Senior Investigator), Jonathan Links (Senior Investigator)

University of Delaware: Joanne Nigg (Co-PI), Rachel Davidson (Senior Investigator)

Total Award Amount:

Project 49


Elise Miller-Hooks, Ph.D.
Bill & Eleanor Hazel Chair in Infrastructure Engineering

Phone: 703.993.1685
Email: miller@gmu.edu

Office: 4614 Nguyen Engineering Building

Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering
George Mason University
4400 University Drive, MS 6C1
Fairfax, VA 22030


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