Development of a decision support system through modelling of critical infrastructure interdependencies : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Emergency Management at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
Critical Infrastructure (CI) networks provide functional services to support the wellbeing of a community. Although it is possible to obtain detailed information about individual CI and their components, the interdependencies between different CI networks are often implicit, hidden or not well understood by experts. In the event of a hazard, failures of one or more CI networks and their components can disrupt the functionality and consequently affect the supply of services. Understanding the extent of disruption and quantification of the resulting consequences is important to assist various stakeholders' decision-making processes to complete their tasks successfully. A comprehensive review of the literature shows that a Decision Support System (DSS) integrated with appropriate modelling and simulation techniques is a useful tool for CI network providers and relevant emergency management personnel to understand the network recovery process of a region following a hazard event. However, the majority of existing DSSs focus on risk assessment or stakeholders' involvement without addressing the overall CI interdependency modelling process. Furthermore, these DSSs are primarily developed for data visualization or CI representation but not specifically to help decision-makers by providing them with a variety of customizable decision options that are practically viable. To address these limitations, a Knowledge-centred Decision Support System (KCDSS) has been developed in this study with the following aims: 1) To develop a computer-based DSS using efficient CI network recovery modelling algorithms, 2) To create a knowledge-base of various recovery options relevant to specific CI damage scenarios so that the decision-makers can test and verify several ‘what-if’ scenarios using a variety of control variables, and 3) To bridge the gap between hazard and socio-economic modelling tools through a multidisciplinary and integrated natural hazard impact assessment. Driven by the design science research strategy, this study proposes an integrated impact assessment framework using an iterative design process as its first research outcome. This framework has been developed as a conceptual artefact using a topology network-based approach by adopting the shortest path tree method. The second research outcome, a computer-based KCDSS, provides a convenient and efficient platform for enhanced decision making through a knowledge-base consisting of real-life recovery strategies. These strategies have been identified from the respective decision-makers of the CI network providers through the Critical Decision Method (CDM), a Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) method for requirement elicitation. The capabilities of the KCDSS are demonstrated through electricity, potable water, and road networks in the Wellington region of Aotearoa New Zealand. The network performance has been analysed independently and with interdependencies to generate outage of services spatially and temporally. The outcomes of this study provide a range of theoretical and practical contributions. Firstly, the topology network-based analysis of CI interdependencies will allow a group of users to build different models, make and test assumptions, and try out different damage scenarios for CI network components. Secondly, the step-by-step process of knowledge elicitation, knowledge representation and knowledge modelling of CI network recovery tasks will provide a guideline for improved interactions between researchers and decision-makers in this field. Thirdly, the KCDSS can be used to test the variations in outage and restoration time estimates of CI networks due to the potential uncertainty related to the damage modelling of CI network components. The outcomes of this study also have significant practical implications by utilizing the KCDSS as an interface to integrate and add additional capabilities to the hazard and socio-economic modelling tools. Finally, the variety of ‘what-if’ scenarios embedded in the KCDSS would allow the CI network providers to identify vulnerabilities in their networks and to examine various post-disaster recovery options for CI reinstatement projects.
Decision support systems, Emergency management, Infrastructure (Economics), Simulation methods