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The University of Southampton
Engineering

Research project: Decision Support Systems for Resilient Strategic Transport Networks in Low Income Countries

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This project is developing decision support tools for strategic land transport infrastructure in East Africa. These will enable transport stakeholders to assess the potential impacts on resilience and broader sustainability of transport system interventions. This research is funded by UKAID through the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office under the High Volume Transport Applied Research Programme, managed by IMC Worldwide.

The project will address the following research questions:

RQ1: What is the expected range of future scenarios for transport in the case study region?

RQ2: What data is required in order to develop an effective decision support system for long distance transport in LICs?

RQ3: How resilient is long distance transport infrastructure in the case study region to climate-related and other hazards?

RQ4: How can the sustainability of long-distance transport systems in the case study region be quantified and assessed?

RQ5: How can stakeholders assess the relative performance of transport investment options against a range of sustainability metrics?

The project will assemble network usage data for the case study region from a range of sources.  Based on these datasets, Origin-Destination (OD) matrices and maps of network usage will be constructed.  Alongside this future scenarios for strategic transport networks will be developed covering both exogenous factors such as population and economic development and endogenous factors including infrastructure changes and advances in transport technology.  These scenarios and datasets will form the basis for the interactive decision support system developed by the project.

The first element of this interactive system involves integrating geospatial extreme hazards information with multi-modal infrastructure network models including design attributes, flows, and costs of adaptation measures. The analytics from the system will enable identification of network nodes and links which are exposed to climate-related and other hazards, and quantification of the level of risk that is posed by these hazards, taking account of the systemic nature of network effects.  Furthermore, the adaptation options and costs will be evaluated against the climate risks to understand how and where to prioritise investments. 

Climate resilience is not the only criteria on which transport investment decisions should be judged.  The project will therefore also develop a set of indicators which allow the performance of investment options to be assessed against a range of additional sustainability metrics, such as carbon emissions, local air pollution, network resilience, safety and congestion. This will be designed with the assumption that detailed data to underpin the metrics may not always be available, and will therefore make use of a decision-tree based approach with qualitative ratings assigned to each indicator.  In order to enable the decision support system to be easily accessed and utilised by a wide range of stakeholders, an easy-to use web-based implementation of the system will be built to allow these stakeholders to explore future scenarios, navigate trade-offs between different sustainability goals and compare different transport investments and policies.

The web-based tool, climate resilience assessment and sustainability indicators will therefore together enable stakeholders to assess the country-specific impacts of future climate change and compare the costs of adapting transport infrastructure and services to better withstand these impacts with the costs of inaction.  They will also allow stakeholders to determine which combinations of interventions aimed at reducing transport carbon emissions will deliver the greatest co-benefits in terms of climate resilience, air pollution, and broader contributions to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Related research groups

Transportation Group
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