UM and Virginia Tech researchers will collaborate and investigate the resiliency of neighborhoods
By Barbara Gutierrez
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 5, 2016) – How resilient are Miami and Miami Beach? Could they survive the brunt of a major natural disaster? Could the built environment and infrastructure in those coastal cities withstand Category 5 hurricane-force winds and rising sea levels?
The answers to these questions and many others could soon be found by a team of researchers from the University of Miami’s College of Engineering and School of Architecture, who, along with scientists from Virginia Tech, have received a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant to assess the infrastructures of those two municipalities and perhaps make them more resilient.
Starting in January and with the help of a social scientist and a computer scientist from Virginia Tech, the UM researchers will study neighborhoods in Miami and Miami Beach to determine how they work from both a physical and social perspective.
“We will look at how neighborhoods work and see what their typical features and structure are and how they contribute towards or against resiliency as well as quality-of-life objectives,” said UM Professor of Architecture Sonia Chao, one of the principal investigators on the Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes (CRISP) project.
The goal is to create new holistic paradigms of resilient urban and community design for coastal cities through the development of a human-centered computational framework, Chao added.
“We will integrate the social science and the urban design to create meta-models and achieve anticipatory resiliency,” said Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos, assistant professor in the College of Engineering’s Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, and lead investigator of the project. “Our goal is to address the questions of what could happen if an area is hit by a major disaster and what will the effect of anticipatory measures be.”
An innovative flexible modeling and computational framework for simulation and optimization will be developed to help answer those questions, according to Wangda Zuo, assistant professor in the College of Engineering.
“The project is highly interdisciplinary,” said Chao, director of UM’s Center for Urban and Community Design. “That cross-pollination and its implied layering of data and of vantage points, naturally yields a more robust and comprehensive product, which in turn can better afford community leaders with effective resiliency strategies.”
Throughout the two-year study and after its completion, researchers will hold a series of seminars in collaboration with decision-makers and practitioners from the cities of Miami and Miami Beach. They will also hold an exhibition at the Miami Frost Museum of Science to raise awareness and promote research on coastal resiliency.