Houston, TX 77005
3:45 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, 2013
On Campus | Alumni
Successful design and operation of complex urban infrastructure systems is a multifaceted challenge that involves both engineering and social dimensions. Technically-effective management plans may fail to function successfully if they ignore involved social dimensions. A representative instance of such social dimensions is residents’ over-compliance with hurricane evacuation orders (i.e., shadow evacuation) that may lead to unexpected traffic jams and the failure of evacuation decisions. The failure of technologically-sound water recycling programs due to public misperceptions about water treatment infrastructure is another example. This presentation first briefly explains some social dimensions of representative urban infrastructure management problems. Then, it describes a collaborative research project that bridges social sciences and hydraulic engineering to secure water distribution systems against contamination threats. A set of sociotechnical decision support models that are developed for contamination risk assessment, preparedness, and emergency response are demonstrated. It illustrates how the complex interactions among the infrastructure, consumers, and managers influence the dynamics of an emergency environment. The presentation concludes with a set of research plans for the application of sociotechnical complex systems analysis as a method to approach disaster management, integrated urban water management, etc.