Emergency Resource Location-Allocation and Deployment (eROAD) Tool

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering

Abstract

Infrastructure systems, such as water, electrical and transport networks, form the backbone of a countries social, economic and environmental wellbeing and underpin the stable functioning of our modern communities.

These systems are currently being subjected to a multitude of challenges - from a changing climate, to increasing population demands and economic austerity. The individual components of infrastructure systems (e.g. roads, bridges, reservoirs) are constructed to have long asset lives and existing components were not designed to cope with these ever increasing external pressures. As a consequence, the ability of our infrastructure systems to provide a basic quality and quantity of service after a severe weather event is being compromised. In the case of the winter 2013/14 storms, almost 1million households were cut off from electricity supplies and many we not reconnected for several days. We therefore require solutions to increase the resilience of our infrastructure systems and to minimise the disruption to our communities after a severe weather event.

In many cases, current solutions to increase the resilience of infrastructure systems are based on an ad hoc procedure. This is mainly due to the current high levels of uncertainty regarding long-term climate projections, meaning that they cannot be reliably used as a basis for changing the design of future assets (e.g. through alteration of design codes), or to inform decisions to permanently alter current assets (e.g. through the construction of permanent flooding defences). Within this current "period of flux" we cannot simply do nothing, nor can we base decisions upon such uncertain models, we therefore require alternate more "adaptive" solutions to increase the resilience of our infrastructure.

This research will develop a new generation of analysis and decision making tools required by engineers to identify how to locate, and when to deploy, resources to protect critical infrastructure during extreme weather events. Using this solution, a "baseline level" of service to our communities can be ensured, through either the protection of individual assets or through the provision of a temporary service, without the need of long-term climate scenarios to inform decisions.

Planned Impact

The proposed research will find its path towards impact on society through both the uptake of the methodology by the complex network modelling and next generation infrastructure communities (academics) and also through the use of the tool by the National Grid and other industrial partners (industrial). To maximise impact both of these communities require successful demonstration of the methodology and application tool.

This proposed research will apply the "eROAD tool" to the positioning of National Grid (NG) demountable (mobile) flood defences, which are used to protect substation assets in the event of a predicted flood event. However, it should be stressed that this is not the only application for this research, as indicated by the Letters of Support. It is envisaged that "eROAD tool" will be applied to model other resilience issues and infrastructures in future research projects, including: the location and deployment of other emergency resources (e.g. emergency service vehicles, repair vehicles, grit storage) and the effective positioning of new emergency service buildings (e.g. fire stations, hospitals), amongst others. A series of workshops are planned for the industrial partners to showcase the application of this research. These events will also show potential future applications for this tool in other areas, potentially opening the door for future research grants to further develop the tool and its range of applications. To reach the wider Civil Engineering community publication of the research application is envisaged in the Institute of Civil Engineer's New Civil Engineer magazine and also online in their social media platforms.

The PI plans to spend time visiting academic groups, specialising in complex networks, to showcase the modelling tool. The methodology and the results of the application will also be published in high quality journal publications, in the field of complex network analysis, and presented at international conferences (e.g. Conference on Complex Systems), to widen the impact to the academic community. These conferences will not only provide a platform to disseminate the research findings to an international audience, but will also provide opportunities to network with other academics in this research area, who could form project partners in future research grants to apply, and develop, this methodology. It is envisaged that this tool could be used by academics to consider other problems, including: town planners to effectively site new facilities (e.g. hospitals, fire stations) or to consider effective investment from retailers (e.g. where to site a new retail unit to attract the most custom, considering both the number of households in the area but also the number of retail units already in the area).

At this stage of the research, the impact is primarily aimed at academic and industrial audiences, however in future the PI would like to expand upon this to engage with a wider public. Agent-based modelling is the driver behind many software games, including the popular "SimCity" and as such could be included as a "plug in" to the game to demonstrate the potential impacts of a simulated flooding event to cities (and their underpinning infrastructure systems) which could be engaged with by the public, at events such as the British Science Festival. There are numerous researchers in the School of Computing Science (at Newcastle University) who have experience in the area of software development, who could provide the necessary skills and expertise to achieve this.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have developed a new "resource location" tool, that is capable of determining the location of resources that are needed in the event of a hazard (whether this is before the event, or in the immediate aftermath). This tool considers the location that will minimise the distance between the resource location and all assets requiring access to the resource. The tool is also capable of splitting the resources across multiple sites and accounting for assets that have a greater need of resource (e.g. having a maximum distance for these sites from the resource).
Exploitation Route These findings/methodology could be applied to a wide range of problems - considering where to place resources where they are needed (whether this is grit storage for winter roads or demountable flood defences to protect individual assets).
Sectors Construction,Energy,Transport

 
Description National Grid 
Organisation The National Grid Co plc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The National Grid have been kept informed of our research progress via e-mail, telephone and face-to-face meetings.
Collaborator Contribution The National Grid have supplied valuable asset and fault data to be used in the analysis and also provide insights and technical expertise with regards to their systems.
Impact No outputs have yet been recorded as this work is currently in it's initial stages.
Start Year 2017
 
Description International Visit - Australia (Seminar 1) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Seminar presented at University of Sydney to a largely academic audience (mixture of postgraduate students and academics at all career stages). This sparked a series of questions and discussion with the audience afterwards - and also started a series of small meetings to discuss future research activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description International Visit - Australia (Seminar 2) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Seminar presented at University of Wollongong to a largely academic audience (mixture of postgraduate students and academics at all career stages). This sparked a series of questions and discussion with the audience afterwards - and also started a series of small meetings to discuss future research activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description NG Interim Discussion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Report on progress to the National Grid, including the prior submission of an interim report (with results to date), which sparked comments as to how the research should proceed in order to maximise the impact for the project partners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018