Systems Engineering Approach to the Reliability of Complex Civil Infrastructure


Western University
BC Hydro

Project time

September 2014 - September 2018

Principal investigators

Slobodan P. Simonovic, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Western University
Dr. Des Hartford, PhD, F.EIC, F.ICE, F.IEI, P.Eng, BC Hydro

Project team

Slobodan P. Simonovic, Professor, Western University
Dr. Des Hartford, P.Eng, BC Hydro
Leanna King, PhD Student, Western University, contact person, email
Arunkumar R., Postdoctoral Fellow, Western University
Bogdan Pavlovic, MESc Student, Western University
Ryan Weise, MESc Student, Western University

Project description

Canada is facing a major crisis as many of the main infrastructure systems are reaching their end of serviceable life. Major investments in the coming years will be required to renew and upgrade critical infrastructure assets such as storm and waste water systems, transportation systems and power generation, transmission and distribution facilities. Technological advances over the past few decades have resulted in increasing complexity of these integrated civil infrastructure systems. As a result of this, the management and maintenance of these systems is becoming increasingly challenging as the systems age. System performance and reliability is a result of the interdependencies between engineered, natural and human system components. Traditional engineering risk analysis tends to focus on extreme events which have a low probability and thus contribute very little to the overall system reliability. There is a widely recognized need to move toward integrated systems modelling to gain a better understanding of system response to a variety of loads, demands and operational decisions that occur both within and outside of the design envelope. This research aims to develop an advanced risk analysis methodology for implementation with civil engineering infrastructure systems and test the utility of the developed methodology by applying it to a set of real BC Hydro systems of hydropower flow-control. Interactions between natural, engineered and human system components will be considered under the entire range of operating conditions for a variety of system configurations. The goal of this research is to develop a systems approach to risk assessment as it relates to day to day system operation. The proposed simulation tool could be used in planning of budgets, staffing requirements, maintenance, capital upgrades, day to day operations, and also for the training of new employees. It has the potential to play a critical role in whole-life cycle asset management and help asset owners determine a long term strategy for the renewal of aging infrastructure.

Project Publications

Simonovic, S.P., and Arunkumar, R. (2016). Quantification of resilience to water scarcity, a dynamic measure in time and space. Proceedings of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences, 373(2003), 13-17.

Project Papers

King, L.M., S.P. Simonovic and D.N. Hartford. (2016). A hydropower infrastructure simulation model for assessment of resilience. In Proceedins of CSCE Conference, June 1-4, 2016, London, ON.

Project Reports

Bogdan Pavlovic and Slobodan P. Simonovic (2016). Automated Control Flaw Generation Procedure: Chekamus Dam Case Study. Water Resources Research Report no. 093, Facility for Intelligent Decision Support, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, London, Ontario, Canada, 78 pages. ISBN: (print) 978-0-7714-3113-5; (online) 978-0-7714-3114-2.

Project Presentations

Assessment of hydropower system safety using a systems approach and dynamic resilience. Project Meeting Presentation. Presented by Leanna King, MIT, June 27, 2017.