Mila Kennett, the high-performance and resilience program manager for the Dept. of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, has been plugging away for 10 years, developing risk management and other resilient-building tools for the design and owner community, first for FEMA and now for DHS. Her big thing is to look at multihazard adaptation—not just extreme weather but blast and other terrorist threats as well—and high-performance buildings, all at the same time. Her group coordinates with NIST and NIBS, as well as other groups.

Since 2011, Kennett’s team has been issuing parts of an Integrated Rapid Visual Screening (IRVS) series of digital tools.  The tools are aimed at providing a quick and simple method to determine initial or relative risk and resilience for buildings based on visual inspection only.

The IRVS for buildings categorizes 15 building types and addresses 20 hazardous events: internal (intrusion, blast and chemical-biological-radiological); external blast and external chemical, biological, and radiological releases from 100, 300 and 1,000 ft; earthquakes (ground shaking and ground failure; floods (still water and velocity surge); wind (hurricane, tornado and other wind events); landslide (rainfall and earthquakes); and fire (resulting from quakes, blast or arson).

Information obtained from the IRVS analysis can be used by law enforcement agencies, emergency managers, facility managers, engineers and architects to support higher-level assessments and mitigation measures.

The knowledge for calculating both risk and resilience is embedded in the tool, says the directorate. Major tool interactions are automatically calculated by preassigned weights, interaction logic  and context-based algorithms based on knowledge and tool validations.

For natural hazards, the tool uses probability of occurrence. Risk is a product of consequences multiplied by threats multiplied by vulnerabilities. Resilience is computed from a combination of robustness, resourcefulness and recovery factors based on information such as hardening, training and redundancies.

An Owners Performance Requirements tool, coming soon, is designed to assist in planning both new  buildings and retrofits by analyzing different performance scenarios and producing cost-effective strategies as outputs, says Kennett.  It is not a cost analysis tool, though.

The OPR is able to set up different scenarios according to different attributes, including seismic risks, flood risks, tornado risks, blast range threat, ballistic threats, CBR exposure, exterior glazing, air tightness/leakage, unit energy cost, natural ventilation, solar energy and noise control.  The tool is in the final phases of development.  There is a version for building envelopes currently available on the directorate’s website. 

A future project, dependant on future funding, is a flood-damage protection tool. The data included in the group’s urban blast tool (UBT) will be expanded to allow first responders and the engineering community to evaluate the impact of flooding in a particular region in New York City. The tool is intended for rapid off-the-shelf damage prediction, says the directorate.

As part of the preparation of the current version of the UBT, extensive information on buildings and underground structures has been gathered and transferred to a database. The current UBT tool can be adapted to display information related to other hazards. For example, urban topography and storm surge information can be mapped into the existing UBT models of the New York financial district to evaluate the likely extent of coastal flooding. 

Algorithms to compute contours of resilience and the impact on individual buildings and the region will be added to characterize all types of hazards. The UBT database may be supplemented with street elevations and subway entrance locations to augment the effort.  

The new tool will incorporate the virtual city model, i.e. the specific city topography, and a database with flooding data of precomputed scenarios. The risk of a given flooding scenario can be analyzed within seconds to give first responders the ability to quickly assess damage due to a given flooding scenario.

In addition, the new model will include information on lifeline—power grid, water and communications—distribution networks. As a result, identification of potential routes of flooding, damage assessment and required protection of infrastructure can be made with only seconds of analysis time, says the directorate. This tool can be eventually and easily adapted to all major cities in the U.S., says Kennett.

Another future project is creating an IRVS Cloud function. The current IRVS software is a stand-alone tool.

The IRVS Cloud is defined by specifying a physical region that contains different assets/facilities identified by the tool's user. A region can comprise a single asset or multiple assets. Regions will be analyzed by the location of the assets, critical functions, existing redundancies, need for continued operations after a disaster event and links/dependencies between selected assets.

The IRVS Cloud will determine the level of exposure of a single asset or multiple assets to the effects of climate and undesirable natural disasters. It will identify the interactions between the information contained in the IRVS Cloud and the assets within the formulated region. It will perform an IRVS risk assessment. And it will understand the selected facilities risk and resilience to select the most appropriate and cost-effective mitigation measures to maximize existing resources, says the directorate.