Modelling the complexity of emergencies

Title of the research project

IDEal reSCUE - Integrated DEsign and control of Sustainable CommUnities during Emergencies

Scientific area

Artificial intelligence, Simulation and modeling tools, Civil engineering

Project coordinator

Gian Paolo Cimellaro


The seriousness of extreme events such as earthquakes, hurricanes or terrorists acts, depends on the natural (or not) hazard but also on the human error in dealing with the emergency. The project proposes a new method to assess the performance of critical infrastructures during emergencies that takes into account also human behavior.

Description of the research project 

When an extreme event occurs, multiple organizations and agencies such as policeman, emergency medical technicians, fire brigades, must respond to the disaster by coordinating their respective resources, knowledge, skills and abilities to overcome the problems generated by the crisis. It is therefore a challenging task to integrate multiple actors of a complex and dynamic disaster environment into a well functioning response system.

The objective of the IDEal reSCUE project is to propose a new method to model the performance of critical infrastructures and their interdependencies as well as the influence of human behavior. The model will be based on the combination of “Network models” and “Agent-Based models” (ABM). Network models will be used to simulate physical infrastructures (road, water, power etc.), ABM will be used to model the simultaneous operations and interactions of multiple non-physical infrastructures like medical technicians, police, fire brigade, in an attempt to re-create and predict the appearance of complex phenomena. The ground breaking potential of the research is the insertion of “Emotions” in the human decision making process which affects performance of critical infrastructures especially during emergency, as proven by recent disasters.

The project will deliver and test on several case studies a new crisis management tool to enhance the resilience of critical infrastructures against natural and man-made disasters.

At the following link on Vimeo it is possible to visualize a video about this research project produced by the European Research Council.

Impact on society 

The research will advance risk assessment understanding and bring to a better management of buildings and civil infrastructures. This could have a significant impact on society by improving the resiliency of civil infrastructure systems.

Furthermore, it will make possible to develop interactive real-time scenario analyses of large scale comprehensive models. Through the simulation of different emergency options, the framework will assist managers of public and private organizations in designing the best policies and strategies during emergencies when the situation is evolving fast and pressing decisions need to be taken.

Short CV of project coordinator 

Gian Paolo Cimellaro is Visiting Professor at the Univ. of California, Berkeley and he is Associate Professor in the Civil Engineering Dpt. of the Politecnico di Torino. He obtained his M.S. (2005) and Ph.D. (2008) from the Univ. at Buffalo (SUNY) in USA.  Graduated cum laude in Civil Engineering, University of Rome La Sapienza, 2001.  He is the Chair of the ASCE Committee on “Disaster Resilience of Structures, in USA.  He has been invited to 3 Keynote lectures and 30 seminars worldwide. He has authored 40 journal papers, 98 conference papers, 11 book chapters and 2 books.  Research interests: community disaster resilience and sustainability to natural disasters.  Selected awards: Fib Achievement Award for Young Engineers (2011); Seed Grant Award from the Siebel Energy Institute of UC Berkeley (2015).  

     IDEal reSCUE project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme  grant agreement No 637842

  • Budget: 1.271.138
  • Start date: 1/11/2015
  • End date: 31/10/2020