DRC-Disaster Research Center

Active Studies

Below is a list of active research studies being conducted at the DRC. In addititon to the brief description of each project on this page you can see more detailed information by clicking on a study's title.

Collaboration for Inclusive Emergency Preparedness and Response

This project seeks to make emergency planning for individuals with developmental disabilities (IWDD) more robust. To do so, the project has two main aims. The first is to implement emergency preparedness initiatives that incorporate IWDD into emergency plans. Current emergency plans will be reviewed to identify potential gaps in planning for IWDD. By understanding where the current emergency plans do not address the needs of IWDD, it is possible to make recommendations that would make plans more inclusive. The second aim is to help IWDD and their families prepare for disasters. This will be done by an increased and sustained emergency preparedness effort between IWDD and their families for disaster planning.

Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA)-Technology, Weather Forecasts, and Warnings: Integrating the End User Community

The Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) project is one of a small number of multi-disciplinary, multi-institution engineering research centers in the United States funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). CASA focuses on the development of radar technology to permit earlier and more accurate forecasts of tornadoes, floods, and other severe weather which may improve weather forecasts and increase lead times.CASA has an end-to-end integration goal. Instead of developing the technology and making it available to users, CASA examines end user needs and takes into account user recommendations. CASA brings together social scientists from DRC with decision scientists, computer scientists, meteorologists, and radar engineers from universities across the United States.

Collaborative Proposal Project: Interaction between Building and Occupant Responses during Collapse (IBORC)

This research investigate how a building’s dynamic response to an extreme event impacts the actions of occupants present throughout the building. Using a bomb blast near critical structural members as an example of an extreme event, we will utilize computational simulation to investigate emergent occupant response during situations that involve partial or complete building collapse. The research will take place at the intersection of structural engineering, social science, and computer science

Collaborative Research Proposal on Improvisation and Sensemaking in Sudden Crisis

This study examines organizational improvisation and sensemaking under conditions of rapid change and urgent needs for decision and action.  It extends these themes to investigate their occurrence across geographically dispersed organizations that are able to coordinate actions and responses by “making sense” with each other regarding swiftly-developing emergency needs and coordinating actions responsively and productively.

DRU: Contending with Materiel Convergence: Optimal Control, Coordination, and Delivery of Critical Supplies to the Site of Extreme Events.” Funded by the National Science Foundation

The overall goal is to develop methodologies and tools to foster an accelerated convergence between the dynamic needs and supplies of critical resources (e.g., blood, water) to the site of an extreme event. These methodologies will be based on state of the art concepts from the social sciences, control theory, and robust stochastic optimization of dynamic supply chains with the aim of reducing adverse impacts of convergent low priority goods, while expediting the flow of high priority supplies to various response related sites.

DRU: Integrated Optimization of Evacuation and Mass Care Sheltering for Hurricanes

This proposal seeks to improve understanding of and decision support for evacuation and mass case sheltering in hurricanes. In the past, math modeling in this application has been limited to estimating the time required to clear a region, assuming many characteristics of the problem are uncontrollable input (e.g., where shelters are located). Instead, we will expand the decision frame and use optimization models to support the full range of strategic and operational evacuation and sheltering decisions, with higher-level objectives such as minimizing life loss, cost, and inequity. These models will be developed through a tight interaction between sociologists and engineers to ensure that they are firmly grounded in the reality of people’s behavior.

Infrastructure Security and Emergency Preparedness

The objective of this project is to develop a framework to evaluate the resiliency of transportation corridors before, during or after a catastrophic event. The proposed research will serve as the initial concepts and framework for a suite of tools to assist agencies to be better prepared for, better able to respond to and better able to recover from catastrophic events due to natural hazards.

Investment Planning for Regional Natural Disaster Mitigation

This project will develop a set of models to: help guide an optimal expenditure of regional natural disaster mitigation funds, and provide insight into the many factors that interact to determine the best mix of mitigation strategies. Focusing on earthquakes and hurricanes, the regional natural disaster mitigation analysis models will help an at-risk region with a limited budget decide how much to spend on pre-event mitigation that aims to reduce future losses versus post-event recovery, and which of the many possible pre-event mitigation activities to fund so as to meet the region’s objectives, The proposed set of models will advance knowledge about natural disaster risk management and the simultaneous planning for multiple hazards.

Issues in Disaster Science and Management: A Critical Dialogue Between Scientists and Emergency Managers

This project is designed to develop a textbook that will help bridge this divide. Our approach will focus the attention of academic/practitioner teams’ on critical contemporary issues related to disasters.  For each issue, academics and practitioners will be selected to describe what we “know.”  Researchers will be asked to focus on the scientific findings and practitioners will be asked to discuss patterns and variation in national policies/state of practice.  The focus of the project will be on facilitating an exchange of ideas between these communities and developing a vision for how their important insights could be brought together to make the US emergency management system better.

Methods for Measuring, Monitoring and Evaluating Post-Disaster Recovery

This study will develop innovative methods for systematically and quantitatively measuring and monitoring post-disaster recovery. Using  Hurricane Charley and Hurricane Katrina as a case studies, the proposed project will achieve the following objectives: (1) Develop methods to process and interpret remote-sensing data to describe the physical  and socio-economic manifestations of post-disaster recovery; (2) Obtain and compile quantitative and qualitative recovery data from: remote-sensing, field reconnaissance surveys, secondary statistical sources, interviews, and surveys; (3) Develop methods to analyze and synthesize the recovery data to comprehensively measure and monitor recovery; and (4) Demonstrate application of the new methods within the case study area.

Modeling Natural Disaster Risk Management: A Stakeholder Perspective

This project involves developing risk and game theoretic optimization models to support design of a regional natural disaster risk management system that is effective, efficient, sustainable, equitable, and that is appealing to each of the key stakeholders, so that it will be implementable.

Modeling the Ignition and Spread of Post-Earthquake Fires

In this project, we have developed a new physics-based model that simulates the spread of post-earthquake urban fires. in addittion, we have also developed a new approach to statistical modeling of post-earthquake fire ignitions and to data collection for such modeling, and applied it to late 20th century California.

Modeling the Interactions between Development and Regional Disaster Risk

This research aims to understand the interactions between a city’s disaster risk and its development trajectory by 1) developing a system dynamics model capable of describing vulnerability and development, 2) applying the model to Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Padang, Indonesia and 3) using the model to answer questions about development and disaster risk.

Multi-Organizational Collaborative Leadership and Interaction

The goal of this project is to help officials do a better job of coordinating incidents that are multi-organizational and/or multi-jurisdictional.  Consideration is given to traditional formal responders as well as other community-based involvement and the integration of public and private sector efforts, social and human factor elements, and political and cultural facilitators/barriers to response participation.

NEES-SG. NEESWood: Development of a Performance-Based Seismic Design Philosophy for Mid-Rise Woodframe Construction

This project will develop a performance-based seismic design (PBSD) philosophy to safely increase the height of woodframe structures in active seismic zones of the United States as well as mitigating damage to low-rise woodframe structures. NEESWood will provide a seminal advancement in seismic design of woodframe construction as well as the full-scale seismic testing of structural systems including dynamic distributed testing between two sites. When this challenge is successfully met, mid-rise woodframe construction may be an economic option in seismic regions around the United States and the world.

Netherlands US Water Crisis Research Network (NUWCREN)

The purpose of NUWCREN is to develop a sustainable network of Dutch and US knowledge institutes that can facilitate the advancement of the Netherlands’ preparedness with respect to (possible) floods. In addition to distributing existing knowledge, we also aim to develop scientific knowledge and assess operational practice for flood disaster management. The ultimate goal is to institutionalize a collaborative international network that can generate approaches to policy in the Netherlands and/or the United States.

RAPID: Assessing Community‐Scale Disruption and Restoration of Basic Needs in Post‐Earthquake Haiti

This study is aimed at better understanding the nature of the relationship between physical damage in disasters and socio‐economic disruption at the community scale. Specifically, we sought to examine how building damage can be used to predict the severity of disruption to a community’s social fabric and economy.

RAPID: San Bruno CA Sept. 9, 2010 Gas Pipeline Explosion and Fire

This RAPID proposal examines the San Bruno explosion and fire with the aims of (a) improving understanding of how urban fires spread and are suppressed, (b) supporting development and validation of next-generation urban fire simulation models, and (c) advancing theories of resilience.

Resiliency of Transportation Corridors During Disasters

This study examines how multi-organizational actors/agencies expect and are expected to interact during a transportation corridor disaster. Using social network analysis, researchers will examine the codified and actor-anticipated interaction in maintaining the continuity of transportation flows along the I-95 corridor in Delaware.