Infrastructure and systemic vulnerability

Overview / Scientific Gap

At a Swiss national level, up to nearly 45% of the natural damage to buildings is due to floods phenomena (source: AEAI statistics for 2004-2013). Despite the flood hazard are already well known and indicated on the hazard maps, the social, environmental and economic impacts are still poorly understood and documented especially for different infrastructure on a national level.


In this research project we study potential interruptions of the Swiss infrastructure network (i.e. road and rail networks) due to flooding. In particular, (i) we analyse the influence of different methods to deduce the exposure of infrastructure on a national level, (ii) we investigate the variations of the Swiss infrastructure topology with floods and (ii) we estimate the systemic vulnerability of the infrastructure by analysing the number of people who are affected in presence of floods due to interruption of e.g. the road network. This includes a direct local impact as well as if people in the region or on the national level are affected in their mobility (to go to work, schools, hospitals, ...).


This research will be conducted with innovative inter-disciplinary approaches, by employing Network Science and Human Mobility modelling techniques. Measurements of network’s centrality, costs, efficiency, robustness, resilience and clustering will be numerically calculated to characterize the infrastructure network changes due to floods. The estimation of the human flows through the Swiss infrastructure network will be achieved in collaboration with Swisscom, the major telecommunication company in Switzerland, by employing anonymised mobile phone records.


The output of this research will allow to know (i) the most significant/vulnerable parts of the Swiss infrastructure network without and with floods, (ii) evaluation of the Swiss human mobility for a time period of days/weeks without and with floods.