February 17, 2017
What Resilient Infrastructures Mean for Structural Engineering Services in New Orleans
Image 1: Structural Engineering Services Analyze Hurricane Katrinaâ€™s Damages
Hurricane Katrina ravaged 50 floodwalls and levees in New Orleans. At the same time, it exposed the absence of quick disaster-response systems in the city. Since then, engineers, politicians and residents have striven to create more resilient infrastructures that can withstand similar or stronger natural and manmade disasters.
The concept of resiliency encourages structural engineering services to incorporate human factors and holistic considerations that further ecological, social and economic interests.
Incorporating Human Factors in Resilient Infrastructures
The essence of resilient infrastructures lies in the greater obligation of humanizing and collectivizing the decision-making process of built environments. Lehigh University infrastructure researchers defined resilient buildings as products and reinforcers of the community fabric. They stressed that resilience entails mixing imagination, planning, multi-stakeholder contributions and long-term perspectives in order to determine all forms of possible hazards and their repercussions. From there, engineers can design robust systems for enhanced infrastructure strength and recovery. Strong buildings and systems, in turn, enable communities to promptly recover from disasters.
Richard Sause, director of Lehighâ€™s Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems Center, asserts that resilient infrastructures fundamentally center on social engagement. Disaster-resistant buildings are not products of engineers alone, but also of policymakers, data scientists, social scientists and local residents. Their overall imagination in predicting scenarios and using scientific data and community factors to become more prepared creates truly resilient infrastructures.
Political and economic events also combine to influence the shape resilient buildings. In reality, political issues, such as Europeâ€™s refugee crisis, affect the ability of built systems to respond to surges of unexpected human populations. Economic problems impact infrastructures as well. Gentrification, which refers to renewing and rebuilding deteriorating residential areas to accommodate incoming middle-class or upper-class residents, while displacing poorer occupants, challenges the capability of infrastructures to integrate diverse socioeconomic groups.
Environmental, Social, and Economic Benefits
Resilient infrastructures are becoming more popular in New Orleans and other disaster-prone areas because they offer ecological, social and economic advantages. Engineers and planners believe these
structures place the environment at the center of their planning efforts in response to persistent and worsening ecological risks. With environmental risks and resources carefully considered, engineers and builders can design more resilient buildings and systems.
Furthermore, resilient buildings respond to social needs for community cohesion and recreation in the form of safe water bodies and open spaces. Social cohesion increases the commitment to improving the capability of cities to recover from disasters. Cities that connect people physically, socially and psychologically are vital to resilience strategies. Likewise, strong buildings offer economic advantages because they promote and protect community assets. Engineers collaborate with other stakeholders to study the wider effects of calamities and to heighten the disaster-responsive performance of engineering materials and designs.
In New Orleans, the hazards of hurricanes and other disasters are high. Instead of accepting the naturalness of these calamities, engineers can work with relevant stakeholders to design resilient infrastructures. To build stronger buildings, hiring experienced firms that offer structural engineering services can contribute to better community protection and much improved disaster-responsive communities.
About ILSI Engineering: ILSI Engineering is a civil engineering firm with more than 20 years of business experience. Headquartered in New Orleans, we offer civil and structural engineering services, including water resource management, qualified inspectors, sewer system & planning, construction management, coastal protection projects, program management, and other related components, to produce resilient infrastructures for the future.
Sources: “The Broader Impact,” lehigh.edu “Rising Tides: Designing Resilient Amenities for Coastal Cities,” urbanland.uli.org