A range of adverse natural and terrorist disturbances occurring in recent years has highlighted the growing need for urban areas and their associated infrastructure to cope with unexpected shocks and their impacts. While vulnerabilities of urban areas to specific hazards such as terrorism and natural disasters, together with the mechanisms to address them, continue to be studied, no holistic approach has been formulated to address urban vulnerability systematically. In recent years, ‘urban resilience’ has emerged as a potential integrative or ‘bridging’ concept to aid understanding of the complex workings of urban systems and the risks they both face and create.
In enhancing urban resilience, the HARMONISE project will build on a number of key aspects which underpin and contribute to resilience including awareness, precaution, preparedness, and resistance (APPR) – elements which contribute to the adaptive ability and functional capacity of urban areas in responding to extreme events and their resultant impacts. The process of enhancing urban resilience (and the resilience of large scale urban built infrastructure) is complex due to the multi- dimensional and unpredictable factors which exert influences on urban vulnerability and a city’s capacity to prepare and respond for crisis events. In order to address this, HARMONISE will consider the diversity of urban areas and associated vulnerabilities across a range of areas including building typologies, urban infrastructural systems and services, social and political contexts and a range of urban shocks.
Large Scale Urban Built Infrastructure
Large scale urban built infrastructure is a term that is used, within the context of the HARMONISE project, to describe a selection of buildings, complexes and infrastructure types or centres with varying characteristics, functions, layouts, location and uses. This can include developments such as shopping centres / areas, sports venues, and combinations of business centres with underground or internally incorporated transport nodes. As such, large scale urban built infrastructure can be both open spaces (such as city squares or the urban space surrounding tourist attractions) and also confined infrastructure (such as transport hubs, large stadia, theatres etc).
The varying characteristics of these types of developments and infrastructures can have an influence on the level of damage or disruption experienced in the event of a disaster, and indeed will also affect what level of disruption may be considered ‘acceptable’. While many of these infrastructures, be it transport systems of different kinds, large sports arenas or shopping centres have already been evaluated regarding their resilience against major terrorist attacks or other disruptions, to date a comprehensive approach to develop the resilience concept for a combination of such systems (as they are often designed in modern urban areas) has yet to be developed. This is the gap that HARMONISE seeks to address.
A Shared Holistic Concept for Greater Urban Security and Resilience of Large Scale Built Infrastructure
The HARMONISE project recognises and responds to the need for an integrated approach to urban resilience enhancement. The project will culminate in a holistic concept advocating innovative technology exploitation. This will be achieved through the development of an intuitive and interactive intelligence platform, with semantic processing capabilities, within which all aspects of urban security and resilience are enshrined. This HARMONISE Interactive Semantic Intelligence Platform (H-ISIP) aims to provide versatile support for end users; containing, for example, relevant urban resilience information and hosting a portfolio of search, diagnostic, scenario modelling and management tools. The platform will also include educational elements in the form of a ‘virtual centre of excellence’ and self assessment tools to aid end users to assess the general resilience and security level of an existing or proposed large scale infrastructure project.
Knowledge sharing is a key objective of the HARMONISE project. Dissemination and communication of project findings from key stages of the project will include reporting on the State of the Art (SOTA) and gap analysis (WP1), the HARMONISE Interactive Semantic Intelligence Platform (H-ISIP) (WP2), integrated toolkit development (WP3), case study findings (WP4) and performance testing (WP5). Wider exploitation of the HARMONISE concept will also be achieved through participation in and organisation of international conferences and symposiums, together with national level seminars and workshops. A number of CPD proposals will also be developed to advance knowledge transfer in the education and training of the HARMONISE concepts to NGO’s, SME’s and policy related organisations. The interactive semantic intelligence platform will also ensure rich information transfer of the holistic knowledge base developed over the course of the project. Ultimately a core aim of HARMONISE is to promote awareness of the need to adopt an all-encompassing approach in order to gain a deep understanding of urban resilience and security issues related to large scale urban built infrastructure.