Deltares CIrcle Tool Uncovers Infrastructure Dependencies

Over the past decades, the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme climatic events have impacted society in unimaginable ways. Interruptions of critical infrastructure systems such as electricity, communication, drinking water and transport can have especially devastating and long-lasting impacts, including fatalities and economic losses.

These effects are compounded by the dependencies between different critical infrastructure systems, reaching far beyond the directly impacted areas, and the slow recovery process after a major shock. The acceleration of urbanization, climate change, and the networking of systems such as telecommunications and ICT will intensify those impacts in the future.

The interrelation of these systems also makes it impossible for individual organizations, infrastructure operators or cities to solve these challenges on their own. But what if we could bring all stakeholders together, help them learn from their shared knowledge and experiences, and had them develop strategies collectively to make society more resilient?

Deltares is a non-for-profit independent institute for applied water sector research, home to a long-standing tradition of openness and transparency based on the principle of ‘dare to share’ in research, knowledge transfer and open source software development. With the power of collaboration in mind, the Critical Infrastructures team at Deltares developed the CIrcle approach.

With the CIrcle touch table application as a centerpiece, the CIrcle workshop helps stakeholders to understand the complex and interdependent relations between critical infrastructure systems. Based on these findings, stakeholders are supported by Deltares’ experts to develop joint strategies to reduce dependencies, mitigate the impacts of Critical Infrastructure failure and create resilient systems and societies.

As a Platform Partner, Deltares offers the CIrcle workshop to the 100RC Network. The first CIrcle workshop was organized for The Hague (the Netherlands) in January 2019. Experts from utilities, public services, emergency responds and The Hague’s resilience team worked on three shocks potentially facing the city: an intense rainfall scenario, an extreme weather event and a cyberattack on flood protection infrastructure.

The CIrcle workshop enabled the participants to identify technical and organizational dependencies, discuss emergency response plans and procedures, and strengthen the resilience expertise and network within the city. Among the findings were that:

  • The city and its partners are well prepared and coordinated for major events (they have rich experience from past challenges like the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit)
  • The partners are however not highly aware of future challenges such as more intense rainfall, heat waves, an aging society, and cyber attacks
  • They need to coordinate to manage those challenges, as the solution space for existing urban systems is extremely limited due to economic, spatial, and other constraints

Those insights generated have also been used to help finalize The Hague’s Resilience Strategy.

Currently, Deltares is partnering with 100RC Member Cities Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Milan on upcoming CIrcle workshops. The cities are looking forward to gaining further insight into the role of infrastructure networks in resilience, and to developing innovative strategies in close collaboration with their stakeholders.