Head of research group: John Dalsgaard Sørensen
Population growth, urbanization and increasing demands for welfare at global scale, coupled with scarcity of resources, global climate change and derived consequences of this calls for radical and immediate changes of the present best practices for designing, constructing and maintaining structures and buildings. In the mid to long term, this challenge implies decoupling welfare and resource consumption; in the short term, the challenge is to immediately prepare to adapt to the effects of a changing climate and take adequate actions to mitigate further damages to the quality of the environment. The research group on Risk, Resilience, Safety, and Sustainability of Systems addresses societal challenges in which technical, social and environmental factors interact in shaping the built environment with the aim to provide a rational basis for choosing among competing decision alternatives and for formulating standards and codes that align best available knowledge to best practices.
The need for new knowledge
Because of the systemic character of the societal challenges, fundamental new knowledge is needed on understanding links among physical phenomena that in our knowledge tradition and practical applications have been studied and governed in the isolation of individual disciplines and sectors, often limiting systems understanding to simple direct cause-effect relations.
We also need new knowledge mapping indirect dependencies in systems and their representation in the context of decision making are needed. Such new understanding will account for not only the technical aspects of the performances of structures and buildings, but also human perception, cognition and behavior, as well as indirect consequences related to service provisions, environmental impacts and security.
It is also important to establish criteria for optimality and acceptability of decisions involving trade-offs between safety, resilience and sustainability. The same goes for enhancing rationales (including standardization) for design, maintenance and protection of structures and buildings – in their context of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts;
We must also further develop both basic and applied research with respect to methods and technologies that contribute to a seamless information and context consistent fusion of physical knowledge and Big Data as well as efficiency of probabilistic modeling and analysis of complex structures and systems.
In pursuit of establishing the required new knowledge we take basis in normative Bayesian decision analysis - a structured decision making approach - in conjunction with information theory, Bayesian probability theory and statistics, systems sciences, and cognitive sciences. We combine this theoretical basis with deep knowledge on systems involving structures, including aspects of safety, risk, reliability, resilience, and sustainability as well as state-of-the-art knowledge on structural mechanics, material performances and the exposure environment of structures and buildings.
The research group collaborates with internationally leading universities, research institutes, pre-normative and normative committees, engineering associations, industry, public authorities, and NGOs.