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How to improve the resilience of road-based transport network in the aftermath of a climate-related event?

July 29 2019 - by Mark Codling, Resilience/Disaster Risk and Geospatial Information Researcher & an Alum of CLP's Leadership Development Programme

Road-based transport networks are considered amongst the most vital systems to social and economic growth (Hughes & Healy, 2014). These systems support the movement of goods and services over long distances for a rapidly growing global population. Given that over 50% of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, road-based transport services in these locations are deemed to be vulnerable to climate-related disaster events.

Flooding is known to be one of the most common hazards in the region as well as globally, predominately occurring in low lying areas. The capacity to mitigate and cope with response and recovery from disruptions to a network system is essential.  For this reason, correctly assessing the characteristics of a critical infrastructure before a disruptive event is crucial.

In most Caribbean states, there are maps that demonstrate the high accuracy of delineated flood areas. However, the integration of the road network with other data layers can be beneficial to the process of understanding the risk with detailed assessment and modelling. Given the complexity of local road networks in the Caribbean states, it is crucial to understand the concept of resilience and how this can be defined, measured, and improved across the transport sector.

The vulnerability of roads are high in coastal areas of the Caribbean; for this reason, Geographical Information System (GIS) can accurately solve the risk assessment of a road transport system. The application of GIS technology can strengthen the concepts of network resilience in road networks. Road networks can be modelled in GIS to reflect the happenings in reality. The disruption to a system can be automated and calculated to illustrate the vulnerability of the network.

A GIS-based approach to measuring resilience in a spatial context practically targets the needs of infrastructure practitioners for risk-based planning. The GIS tool can be of significant benefit to many countries globally, facing similar vulnerability to critical road networks. It is essential for each Caribbean state to understand the need to assess the practicality of the tool based on:

  • What are the needs of infrastructure practitioners for risk-based planning?
  • What is the availability of the geospatial data, technical skill sets, and access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) hardware?

These factors are clear principles for assessing the practicality of a GIS-Based Tool. The tool can be used for research, planning, and mitigation purposes for local roads. Furthermore, a GIS-Based Tool provides an effective way of assessing the vulnerability of road infrastructure, an automated process for evaluating the redundancy index and alternate route(s) in a given road network. 

From you experience, what is are the impacts of climate-related events on local road-based transport networks in your country?

What other tools do you think can be used to improve the resilience of road-based transport networks