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NCSA part of team developing tools to help governments deal with disasters

NCSA is a member of a team awarded a $20 million award from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop computer tools to help local governments decide how each can best invest resources intended to lessen the impact of extreme weather and other hazards on buildings, infrastructure, and socio-economic systems and to recover rapidly in their aftermath.

NIST’s cooperative agreement with Colorado State University (CSU) establishes the Community Resilience Center of Excellence, which will bring together NIST researchers and partners from 10 other universities.

“This center complements NIST’s long-standing efforts to improve the performance of the built environment against natural hazards—such as tornadoes, coastal flooding, wildfires and earthquakes—as well as large-scale, human-caused disruptions,” said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May. “The tools developed by the center will help to further advance the important goal of disaster resilience from ambitious concepts to cost-effective solutions that communities can implement over time.”

The new center will collaborate with NIST to achieve its long-term goal of developing tools that individual communities can use to assess their resilience. This includes evaluating the effectiveness of alternative measures intended to improve performance and minimize post-disaster disruption and recovery time. These tools will improve decision-making so that communities can build a “business case” for the measures they take.

The centerpiece of the center’s effort will be NIST-CORE—the NIST-Community Resilience Modeling Environment. NIST-CORE will be built on the Ergo software, developed at NCSA for hazard assessment, response, and planning. Ergo is already used around the world, and according to NCSA’s Danny Powell, this collaboration with NIST will further expand on the functionality and applications currently available through the software platform.

The National Data Service consortium, of which NCSA is a founding member, will also be part of the project, working with NIST-CORE developers and researchers on data publishing.

John W. van de Lindt, CSU’s George T. Abell Distinguished Professor of Infrastructure, serves as the center’s principal investigator and co-director. Bruce Ellingwood, CSU professor of civil and environmental engineering, is the other co-director. Associate directors are Paolo Gardoni, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Daniel Cox, professor of civil and construction engineering at Oregon State University.

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