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Engineering, Technology and Planning group

Head: Prof. Pnina Plaut, Technion

The Engineering, Technology and Planning group two main topics are addressed.  The first one is infrastructure management in disaster and emergency events including construction, water and transportation systems.  The second one is investigating factors affecting urban / community resilience and developing indices for urban resilience.       

In construction, innovative construction methods and technologies will be developed and evaluated, including deployable structures, prefabrication, industrialization, automation, robotics and floating mega-facilities.  A special aspect focuses on medical and social 'design for emergencies'  investigating portable healthcare facilities for disaster and rescue situations. Another aspect is housing and community preparedness to earthquakes especially in peripheral towns in Israel where the National Plan TAMA 38 is not economically feasible. The issues surrounding public and private retrofitting of buildings is critical.  A number of the team members are affiliated with two Technion research centers: the Center for City and Regional Studies and the Israeli Building Institute.

In water distribution systems management, security modeling and control of water quality and reliability will be the focus of the research. Another stream of research expertise addresses flood mitigation in urban planning. 

In transportation, real time management of mobility services (of people and goods) during extreme events is a critical topic to address as we witnessed recently, for example, with the different evacuation strategies during from Houston, Florida and South Carolina due to the hurricanes.

With regard to the movement of people there are a number of potential research directions. One is an algorithmic aspect in the design of networks for rescue and evacuation. Another is the development of an online interface between city management systems / IOT systems and the optimization models and simulation platform that can produce and update an evacuation plan in real-time.  A third direction is the design of economic mechanisms for efficient resource allocation when scarce resources are needed to be allocated in the best possible way in times of distress.

Surrounding movement of goods - in supply chains in general and distribution chains in particular uncertainty is a part of life. There are many sources of uncertainty, e.g. quality of items in the chain, amount of inventory at any particular location at any particular time, and the most prevalent of these sources of uncertainty is that of demand. There are many ways of mitigating the negative impacts of uncertainty. Information may be gathered from new sources based on Information Technologies. Supplies of items which are important in times of emergency often deteriorate over time. This is natural. Constant checking and repositioning of these supplies is unrealistic. One way to react is to stock 'more than enough'. Another way is to monitor the quality of items so that if an emergency arrives, the authorities are able to use what they have in the best way possible. When an emergency strikes time cannot be wasted evaluating stocks, action needs to be taken immediately. With Information Technologies and innovative ways of using the information, safety stock can be reduced without compromising the response preparedness of the system. Real time information during transport would again allow real time reaction. Team members from the Center for Military Analyses will look at the logistics of transportation, ammunition supply, and maintenance.

The purpose of investigating factors affecting urban / community resilience is to provide decision makers with dynamic management tools based on objectively verifiable quantitative indicators. Identification of variables that are likely to affect urban / community resilience, such as local economic capital, organizational capital of the municipality, etc. is a necessary deliverable. An important aspect of community resilience is the emergency preparedness and response for vulnerable groups in the community including persons with disabilities, elderly and children. Joint research, together with the Welfare and Social Work and Pubic Health and Emergency Medicine groups will focus on the ways to best access these various groups.