Disaster Risk Reduction
Learn how novel sensing and analysis platforms can allow the assessment and mitigation of hazards.

Project Showcase

CyberEye: A Cyber-Collaboratory for National Risk Modeling and Assessment to Mitigate the Impacts of Hurricanes in a Changing Climate

CyberEye: A Cyber-Collaboratory for National Risk Modeling and Assessment to Mitigate the Impacts of Hurricanes in a Changing Climate is a cyber-platform that uses modular, open-source development principles to enable the community to integrate existing data, models and simulation tools into a collaborative environment over time. CyberEye’s development has focused on supporting two distinct work flows central to hurricane risk assessment and mitigation: high-fidelity Rapid Risk Assessment (RRA) and robust Data Intake and Discovery (DID) to better enable the use of data to inform and validate models used in hurricane risk assessment. Current web-platforms for hurricane risk assessment and mitigation generally fall into two classes: (1) real-time data aggregators intended to support decision makers in preparing for and responding to landfalling events and (2) archives of historical data. In this regard CyberEye provides a single platform that combines both of these core functionalities to serve not only researchers but also various stakeholders.

Project Website: CyberEye.crc.nd.edu

Recommended Reading:

Project Info Sheet

Kijewski-Correa, T., Taflanidis, A., Kennedy, A., Fernando, H.J.S., Kareem, A., Khandelwal, K. and Westerink, J. (2013) “CYBER-EYE: Development of Integrated Cyber-Infrastructure to Support Rapid Hurricane Risk-Assessment,” Proceedings of 12th Americas Conference on Wind Engineering, Seattle, June 16-20.

Decentralized Disaster Risk Reduction

Ultimately the practicality of directly translating the developed world’s centralized approach to disaster risk reduction (DRR) to the developing world where basic societal underpinnings such as regulatory processes and an educational pipeline for professionals do not exist is questionable. Instead, the paradigm must shift at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) to offer neighborhood-empowered, decentralized disaster risk reduction (d-DRR). In this project we demonstrate how such a radical shift can be achieved, by recognizing the power of various approaches that have proven successful in other BOP technical sectors and translating them effectively to the domain of engineering and construction in a way that is scalable and sustainable. These issues of scale and sustainability are only addressed when the targeted communities themselves execute, maintain and ultimately empower every aspect of DRR, particularly for private infrastructure like homes where individual families, and not higher level authorities or municipal entities, are the sole financier, tenant and even contractor.

Recommended Reading:

Project Info Sheet

Infrastructure Digitizer

An automated Infrastructure Digitizer has been developed to further support DYNAMO@ND risk assessment activities, with specific focus on one of the most prevalent building typologies: light-frame wood residential construction. The digitizer assumes no access to structural drawings or other details of the home that are not publically available and instead extracts the exterior geometry from publically available image sources and then constructs a finite element model from this information using a subassembly approach. Ground truth validation studies have confirmed that exterior geometries extracted from Google Street Views using doors as scaling features were found to have mean errors less than 10%, while the subassembly approach replicated the stiffness of the primary lateral system within 5%.

Recommended Reading:

LaBarge, J. and Kijewski-Correa, T. (2013) “Rapid Infrastructure Digitization Framework to Support High-Fidelity Hurricane Risk Assessment,” Proceedings of 12th Americas Conference on Wind Engineering, Seattle, June 16-20.

LaBarge, J. (2012), Rapid Infrastructure Digitization to Support High-Fidelity Hurricane Risk Assessment, MSCE Thesis, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN.


A collaboratory of the leading universities, organizations, firms and government agencies dedicated to mitigating the effects of extreme winds on society. VORTEX-Winds coordinates geographically dispersed e-analysis and design modules to enable automated, integrated analysis and design of structures to resist wind.

Project Website: vortex-winds.org

Recommended Reading:

Project Info Sheet

Engineering2Empower (E2E)

E2E was founded in 2010, in direct response to the January 2010 Haiti Earthquake by University of Notre Dame civil engineering faculty, Dr. Tracy Kijewski-Correa and Dr. Alexandros Taflanidis, and former graduate student Dustin Mix. What started as a pure engineering reconnaissance mission quickly turned into much more when the founders realized the underlying problems plaguing housing in Haiti. Frustrated by the lack of careful and thoughtful consideration of permanent housing solutions after the earthquake, E2E was founded with a focus on a multidisciplinary, sustainable, and innovative approach.  E2E started as an organization committed to exploring new approaches and solutions to the Haitian urban housing problem. E2E has since expanded in its size to two Community Representatives in Léogâne, Haiti (Lamarre Presuma and Jean Edson) and a team of undergraduate students as well as a large set of both university and non-university partners seeking holistic solutions to hazard mitigation in developing settings.

Project Website: e2e.nd.edu

Recommended Reading:

Kijewski-Correa, T., Taflanidis, A. A., Mix, D. and Kavanagh, R. (2012) “An Empowerment Model for Sustainable Residential Reconstruction in Léogâne, Haiti, After the January 2010 Earthquake," Leadership and Management in Engineering, October: 271-287.

Mix, D., Kijewski-Correa, T. and Taflanidis, A. A. (2011) “Assessment of Residential Housing in Léogâne, Haiti After the January 2010 Earthquake and Identification of Needs of Rebuilding,” Earthquake Spectra, 27 (S1): S299.

Mix, D. (2013), Empowerment Model for Post-Quake Reconstruction of Urban Housing in Haiti, MSCE Thesis, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN.

Interdisciplinary Studies in Tsunami Impacts & Mitigation (ISTIM)

This NSF-funded REU site allowed interdisciplinary teams of undergraduates to work on sustainable and culturally appropriate hazard characterization and mitigation strategies in the wake of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, including conducting three years of field reconnaissance and recovery evaluation in Thailand and Indonesia.

Recommended Reading:

Project Info Sheet


Meeting the challenges of global urbanization

Every year, around the world, thousands of lives are lost and communities devastated by natural disasters, and in our increasingly interconnected world, the effects of these events ripple regionally and even globally. Much of this is driven by the unprecedented and sometimes unplanned development of urban zones worldwide leading to the formation of numerous megacities, further exacerbated by population shifts toward coastal areas that have concentrated the majority of the world’s lives and property in some of the most hazard-prone areas. These trends, which have now placed the majority residents in urban zones for the first time in human history, promise only to escalate. Most notably, the impacts of these migrations has been felt in the developing world. In 1950, 11 of the 15 most populated cities in the world were located in developed countries. By 2000, that ratio had inverted, and 11 of the 15 most populated cities in the world were located in developing countries, who are often ill-equipped economically and from a capacity perspective to respond to this rapid urbanization and the infrastructure and policy demands it creates.

Moreover, in the case of hurricanes, the risk of such devastation continues to escalate with increased hurricane intensity, size, and frequency coupled with sustained population shifts toward coastal areas -- as of 2003, 53% of the United States population was living in coastal counties, and it is estimated that the U.S. coastal population will increase by another 12 million by 2015. Vulnerability of these populations to hurricane-induced wave and surge effects are particularly noteworthy, considering that much of the densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coasts lie less than 3 m above mean sea level. These vulnerabilities have been repeatedly underscored by events such as Hurricane Katrina, which remains the most destructive disaster in US history with total property damage estimated at over $100 billion , while claiming a priceless 1,800 lives. More recently, in October 2012, Superstorm Sandy ravaged the northeastern region of the United States resulting in damage estimates of over $50 billion, affecting 650,000 homes, claiming over 100 lives, and leaving about 8.5 million people without power for weeks. Superstorm Sandy was a prime example of how even a comparatively modest storm, when striking a densely populated region, can generate significant damage. This story sadly is repeating itself throughout southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Regardless of the hazard considered, the inevitable result of our newly urbanizing world: particularly large life and economic loss potential, something that has unfortunately been confirmed far too often by the devastation in recent events like Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina and Ike, earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and New Zealand, and tsunamis in Southeast Asia and Japan. While the tsunami in Japan demonstrated the threats posed by low probability, large magnitude, cascading events, the high concentration of people and critical infrastructure systems in confined areas means that even relatively smaller events can have significant losses, in both developed settings, as evidenced by Sandy, and particularly in underdeveloped settings like Haiti. The high level of complexity in these interconnected social, man-made and natural systems has made traditional approaches to assessing risks to built environments and the lives they protect, the ecosystems they are positioned within, and the local and global economies they drive antiquated. As such, a wide range of stakeholders from organizations focused on international development, key private sector players in the insurance and reinsurance industry, and domestic agencies have called for innovative approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) to address the issue of Urban Resilience -- one of the grand challenges of our time. Learn about DYNAMO@ND's efforts in this area.

Recommended Reading on the Subject:

UNISDR (2013) Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction

World Bank (2013) Building Resilience Integrating Climate and Disaster Risk into Development

UNISDR, Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters

UNHABITAT (2012), State of the World's Cities 2012/2013