August 5, 2022 — After nearly seven years of intense development, the URBAN-NET infrastructure quantification tool is available to users.
The tool, developed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will be integrated into the DOE’s Environment for Analysis of Geo-Located Energy Information (EAGLE-I) system, funded by the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) and used by CESER, FEMA, and other federal, state, and local agencies to monitor energy infrastructure assets, report energy outages, view potential threats to energy infrastructure and coordinate emergency response and recovery.
This integration will enable Critical Infrastructure System (CIS) interdependency analysis by simultaneously considering FEMA’s seven community lifelines in an integrated data and computational framework while capturing various types of complex interdependencies in a holistic model.
The incorporation of URBAN-NET will provide a much needed capability in terms of quantifying the country’s infrastructure interdependencies. Specifically, URBAN-NET improves infrastructure modeling and, by extension, disaster response planning through three unique capabilities: identifying and exposing components requiring further analysis and dramatically improving situational awareness for EAGLE-I user community; prioritize data collection during extreme events; and mitigate cascading failures through early detection and rapid response.
“We’re looking at the whole infrastructure interdependency topology,” said Matt Lee, ORNL computer scientist and URBAN-NET Principal Investigator. “For example, if a hurricane hits a region and knocks out a gas plant, what impact will that outage have on power plants, and how will those outages affect substations and consumers, and so on.”
This approach, Lee added, is very different from how power companies and federal agencies have approached identifying vulnerabilities in the past.
Improved modeling of these connections will provide federal agencies and disaster relief organizations with valuable data to predict where never-before-seen vulnerabilities might lie, as disasters and attacks can have implications far from the primarily affected area.
“When you see how the dominoes could fall, you can prioritize your vulnerabilities and minimize the impact,” Lee added.
The tool allowed the team to effectively identify downstream substations that could be affected in the event of a successful attack, allowing emergency response organizations to better prepare their respective regions should such an attack succeed. .
It has been quite a journey for a project that began in 2015 as an ORNL-funded LDRD project. But the hard work pays off with the integration of the tool into EAGLE-I, and perhaps beyond.
The capabilities are so new that stakeholders are still discovering how URBAN-NET could be used.
For example, the model can be improved over time to incorporate more infrastructure assets and refine connections and networks. Such improvements could make URBAN-NET a valuable tool when planning future infrastructure projects.
UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the largest support of basic physical science research in the United States. The Office of Science strives to meet some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.