PITA Fiscal Year 2009 Projects - Infrastructure Safety And Security Technology

An Automated Approach Towards Supporting First Responders in Vulnerability Assessment and Identification of Rectification Opportunities in Buildings Emergencies

Principal Investigators: Burcu Akinci, Omer Akin

When an emergency is reported in a facility, responders need to quickly identify which areas and/or objects in the building to protect. Professionals need to be aware of the possible threats and vulnerable contents in a facility in order to perform effective vulnerability assessment during their response. Typically, the search for and analysis of vulnerabilities are done manually, through the use of lists of vulnerabilities and visual inspection by the response team. Such approach is cumbersome and error prone. Leite et al. (2008) carried out three case studies on flood and power outage building emergencies and observed that initial response efforts took 4-8 hours. Most of the time was spent on identifying what contents needed to be protected and how to protect them since responders needed to gather information from various sources. Some of these information sources are people, who might be unavailable at the time of the emergency. This scenario is the motivation of the proposed research, which is focused on supporting the decision making process of first responders in building emergencies that are caused by failures in a building system (e.g. water line break, power failure). The proposed approach leverages existing building information models (BIM), as an integrated source of information to enable first responders to perform vulnerability assessment more efficiently and effectively. The proposed high-level research activities will consist of development of an extensible content-threat ontology to capture to what threats specific contents are vulnerable, development of algorithms to search and prioritize vulnerabilities that might exist in a facility based on a given threat, and developing algorithms to identify minimum impact rectification opportunities.