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Center for Infrastructure Resilience in Cities as Livable Environments

Over 80% of the U.S. population and 60% of China’s population live in cities and rely on urban infrastructure systems, such as those for energy, water, environment, and transportation, to provide essential services to the residents. These infrastructure systems are key to cities providing livable environments. Moreover, resilience of this interconnected infrastructure against natural and human-made disasters is crucial for effective protection of people and their livelihoods. We assert that without resilient infrastructure that can withstand and recover from extreme events, cities are not livable. However, climate change and human activities have exacerbated the frequency, duration, and intensity of climate-driven extreme events such as typhoons, floods, droughts, and heat waves,4 as well as the risks associated with pandemics, terrorist attacks, and earthquakes. Despite advances in distributed sensing, risk assessment, and urban design, large cities remain vulnerable. For example, failures of both physical and social infrastructure clearly worsened the impact of massive weather disasters in New Orleans (Katrina), New York (Sandy), San Juan (Maria), and Houston (Harvey) – the four costliest storms in the U.S. history.5 Global climate change has aggravated the co-called compounding extreme events6 (e.g., a  drought event followed by a flooding event, co-occurrence of a heat wave with a flood or drought, etc.), which hinders the understanding and solution development toward holistic city-level infrastructure resilience. Moreover, the continued rapid growth of our cities has profoundly changed urban infrastructure systems, yielding unprecedented and time sensitive opportunities and challenges for city planners and managers. The convergence of data science and engineering, as described herein, is needed to assess current vulnerabilities and design strategies to develop resilient interdependent infrastructure in response to these extreme events, and to enhance overall resilience in cities as livable environments.



Billie F. Spencer, Jr., Professor and Newmark Endowed Chair, UIUC  bfs@illinois.edu
Yan Xiao, Distinguished Professor, Zhejiang University- UIUC Institute, yanxiao@intl.zju.edu.cn