November 2015 Research Partner's Lunch Series
Dr. Edward Back, Center for Sustainable Infrastructure, presented on Research Initiatives to Improve Community Resiliency. Improving structural infrastructure resiliency is an important step in formulating a strategy to mitigate social vulnerability and, ultimately, to support urban prosperity. As such, considerable effort has been expended in areas that have been impacted by severe weather and other extreme events to identify meaningful lessons learned regarding the engineering design aspects of materials and physical infrastructure to identify, or formulate, proactive improvement strategies. It is through these field surveys and failure assessments that the engineering professions have learned valuable lessons with regard to design standards, construction procedures, and life safety requirements appropriate for individual buildings or structures. However, little focus has been given to how natural disasters affect urban or community centers in the larger context and the associated macroeconomic impact the loss of structural infrastructure has on the municipality, community or urban environment. For example, the housing sector, consisting of a diverse, non-homogeneous ownership structure is difficult to examine holistically. The inherent variability in personal interests, building types, construction quality, and other such factors make studies focused on macro-level improvement a unique and difficult challenge. Nonetheless, a concise relationship can be conceptualized between the state of urban infrastructure and the balance between social vulnerability and urban prosperity. The University of Alabama Center for Sustainable Infrastructure promotes research initiatives that are focused on these particular challenges and societal needs.
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