NYU Tandon and Wagner project to look below the surface to make NYC more resilient
BROOKLYN, New York, Tuesday, October 5, 2021 — Recent storm-related flooding in New York City from Ida and Henri demonstrates the need for comprehensive, quickly accessible data about the spatial relationships between utility conduits, water and waste systems, fuel transit pipelines, transportation tunnels, and other infrastructure beneath our feet. Whether a crisis involves a fire from a gas leak, flooding that overwhelms drainage systems, electricity outages, or any emergency requiring crews to access subsurface equipment, with potentially hazardous proximity to other systems, easily accessible, usable data about what they are likely to encounter could expedite service restoration and increase safety.
Debra Laefer, Professor in the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering and the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and Rae Zimmerman, Research Professor and Professor Emerita of Planning and Public Administration at NYU Wagner, have received a $1 million Civic Innovation Challenge (CIC) Award supporting community-based solutions to mobility and disaster resilience. The Stage 2 Award will further a collaborative project launched earlier this year supported by a $50,000 CIC Stage 1 Award, to address this challenge by creating a digitized, open, underground infrastructure road map.
Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Homeland Security, the project, Unification for Underground Resilience Measures (UNUM), brings together a consortium of utility companies, city agencies, and consultants, with a focus on Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and Midtown East, Manhattan. The two neighborhoods will serve as test beds for city-level implementation of a subsurface data model to assemble data sets to prepare study sites against natural disasters.
Co-led with Wendy Dorf and Alan Leidner from NYC’s Geospatial Information System and Mapping Organization (GISMO), UNUM will employ the Model for Underground Data Definition and Interchange, an open modeling framework for standardizing underground utility information led by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), a global consortium of 500 businesses, government agencies, research organizations, and universities united with a desire to make location information open and accessible and usable.