Risk-Informed Decision Support


Natural Hazard Modeling

Natural hazards threaten the safety and resilience of our civil infrastructure ranging from public lifelines to private houses and buildings every day. The risk, although cannot be eliminated, can be understood and minimized through accurate modeling and simulation of the hazards and their impacts on infrastructure. Our faculty focuses on advancing the modeling and simulation tools of various natural hazards such as hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, wildfire etc. These tools provide inputs to subsequent resilience analysis and risk-informed decision making regarding the impact of natural hazards on infrastructure.


Real-time risk assessment and decision


Optimization of systems and their design

Engineering systems span a vast array of size, complexity, and application and range in size from low-rise wood structures in coastal regions to power transmission lines that span vast regions of uninhabited mountains or planes. Designing these systems based on inherent levels of risk can involve dozens of variables that include system geometry, materials, and the environment.

Our faculty use principles of structural mechanics, engineering design, probabilistic methods, and environmental impact to study and implement design procedures for civil engineering systems. Consideration of the trade-offs inherent in any design allows for the implementation of novel new material systems or structural components that can drastically improve performance while maintaining levels of safety and lifespan.

NEES Soft Building during shake table testing
NEES Soft Building during shake table testing.
Transmission line galloping during blowing ice
Transmission line galloping during blowing ice, leading to large forces at supporting structures.



Transportation management systems

Critical infrastructure systems in modern communities that are essential to the economic security and social well-being are susceptible to damage due to extreme natural hazards. The aftermath of several major hurricanes, such as Katrina, Sandy and Maria revealed the importance of disaster mitigation strategies that focus on the resilience of the community as a whole, rather than those that simply address safety and functionality of individual infrastructure facilities. Among all critical infrastructures, several are highly interdependent, such as electricity, transportation, water and communications. During the whole process of community recovery, transportation plays a key role to prepare for, response to and recovery from any major hazardous events, including supporting other disrupted infrastructure systems. Resilient transportation management systems based on reliable information of associated risks for specific scenarios therefore become pivotal to supporting the prevention, response and recovery efforts of other infrastructures and the whole community. Some ongoing efforts related to this theme include:


Structural health monitoring

Through in-situ observations of structural systems, full-scale structural health monitoring (SHM) serves as a unique means to validate design practices, assess the condition/performance of structures, as well as provide feedback information for operations and management of civil infrastructure. Various sensing technologies (e.g. wireless sensor network, accelerometers, GPS, vision cameras etc.) have been developed for SHM systems to measure system response/performance under both operational environments and extreme events in past two decades. Recently, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based remote sensing has emerged as a new promising sensing technology to observe the performance of the as-built structures. To provide useful knowledge that supports risk-informed decision making in maintenance/operation of infrastructure, raw data collected by these monitoring systems need to be analyzed and interpreted. Our studies center on the development of automatic and real-time data analysis tools that permit seamless translation from data to knowledge, with the special focus on new types of sensing data, such as UAV collected data.



Integrating physical, social, and economic systems

Events such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake, the 2011 Great Tohoku, Japan earthquake and tsunami, Superstorm Sandy (2012), and other events worldwide have highlighted the need to better understand and model community resilience, including interdependencies among physical infrastructure components and systems that may exacerbate their lack of functionality following a damaging hazard event and delay community recovery and the dependence of supporting social and economic institutions on that physical infrastructure. In 2015, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) funded the multi-university five-year Center of Excellence for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning (CoE), headquartered at Colorado State University. The Center’s purpose is to develop the measurement science needed to understand what makes communities resilient and to develop a computational environment with fully integrated supporting databases that will enable resilience enhancement/planning and recovery strategies to be optimized. The approaches within the CoE couple engineering, sociology, and economics to support engineering and policy decisions by informing stakeholders and decision-makers of potential the choices and consequences. Several projects at CSU including the CoE have focused on risk-informed decision.

NIST Center of Excellence:

A Risk-Informed Decision Framework to Achieve Resilient and Sustainable Buildings that Meet Community Objectives:

Scalable Decision Model to Achieve Local and Regional Resilience of Interdependent Critical Infrastructure Systems and Communities:

(John van de Lindt, Bruce Ellingwood, Suren Chen, Gaofeng Jia, Yanlin Guo, Hussam Mahmoud)