Tien picked to help lead working group for Atlanta’s ‘roadmap to resilience’

Downtown Atlanta skyline with the Downtown Connector and the eastern edge of Georgia Tech's campus. (Photo: Fitrah Hamid)
Atlanta is one of the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities, a program to help communities address the shocks and stresses that weaken the fabric of a city. Assistant Professor Iris Tien has been picked to co-lead a working group that will help city officials develop a "roadmap to resilience" as part of the program. (Photo: Fitrah Hamid)

By Ashley Albrecht, Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute

Assistant Professor Iris Tien. (Photo: Jess Hunt-Ralston)

Iris Tien will co-lead a working group for the City of Atlanta’s efforts to address inadequate transportation systems and the related risks to the city’s broader infrastructure.

Atlanta is one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities, and the working group is part of city’s efforts to develop a “roadmap to resilience.”

"This project has been a unique opportunity to translate fundamental scientific research to the field," said Tien, an assistant professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "Through the project, we've been able to take the first steps to transforming how infrastructure is thought about, from individual, separated infrastructure systems to thinking about critical infrastructure as an integrated, interdependent network."

Working with the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, the Department of Watershed Management, and Atlanta Information Management, Tien’s research group seeks to identify and map the points of contact between traditionally siloed infrastructure systems. Tien develops Bayesian networks — probabilistic graphical models — to map these complex interdependencies.

Tien said the overarching goal is to develop a more holistic approach to risk management.  Traditionally, individual infrastructure systems have emergency managers focused only on the issues related to their system. Tien’s strategy involves developing a critical component identification methodology to help the city prioritize investments.

With the recommendations from Tien’s research, Atlanta’s city leaders will be able to find the right partners for a cross-functional infrastructure evaluation board to evaluate and implement new infrastructure projects. And by mapping interdependencies, assessing the risks, and analyzing the data, Tien’s research can provide city and community stakeholders with data to make better investment decisions to increase infrastructure resilience.

Iris Tien discusses the Bayesian networks — probabilistic graphical models — she uses to map the complex interdependencies of infrastructure systems in this webinar for the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute: