Quantifying resilience of critical infrastructure

Healthcare systems, school districts, university campuses, government buildings, residential buildings, and business districts are comprised of interdependent buildings that together serve a community function. They rely upon a network of critical lifelines, including water, power, cyber, transportation, and wastewater. A $2.5M National Science Foundation grant (nearly $1.1 million moved to Mason) is aimed at determining how these critical infrastructure-based societal systems (CISSs) withstand and recover from disasters. What the researchers learn from developed complex analysis and modeling techniques will help improve, build, and maintain resilient communities.

Elise Miller-Hooks, the Bill and Eleanor Hazel Endowed Chair in Infrastructure Engineering who joined Mason last year, is the Principal Investigator. Her team is looking specifically at how disasters would impact a healthcare system. What makes this project different from other disaster resilience work, beyond its focus on CISSs, is that it looks at multiple hazard types and incorporates public policy, organizational policy, emergent organizational behaviors and risk communication into a broader quantitative assessment. Areas of study include: how organizational behaviors emerge and evolve as a disaster unfolds and how cyber systems become more vulnerable to follow-on attacks and how to prevent them.
Miller-Hooks brought the collaborative project with her from the University of Maryland. Miller-Hooks worked with PI Judy Mitrani-Reiser at Johns Hopkins who has since moved to NIST. The grant also includes education and outreach aimed at strengthening the pipelines of women in STEM fields. The grant wraps up in August 2018.