Improving Critical Communications

Dr. David Mendonca is studying how New York's critical infrastructures interact in an emergency.

Assessing and improving the way managers of New York City's infrastructures -- electric power, transportation and emergency services -- communicate with each other during emergencies is the goal of research by David Mendonca, assistant professor of information systems. In collaboration with W.A. Wallace and Joe Chow of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he is studying how connections among various New York City critical infrastructure systems were restored in the months immediately after the World Trade Center attack. Part of a post-911 initiative by the National Science Foundation to collect data on the impact of and response to the attacks, Dr. Mendonca's group is one of only eight teams funded across the country.


The study looks at connections -- called interdependencies -- among critical infrastructures. The goals are to improve understanding of how these connections are managed and to provide a prototype decision support system for their management. The team has conducted interviews with personnel at such companies and organizations as the Jersey City Fire Department, Consolidated Edision and Verizon to identify how infrastructure interdependencies were restored and managed following the attack. These interviews will be used to develop optimization techniques to support managers in identifying and managing infrastructure interdependencies. Decision support will be provided by linking these techniques to a geographic information system.