The Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation (CSEI) aims to transform the delivery of infrastructure through world-class research on systems engineering and innovation. The Centre acts as a hub for related inter-disciplinary research across campus on both systems engineering and innovation as applied to infrastructure systems (including water, energy, transport and buildings).

During 2018 CSEI funded three small research calls

Research call 1

Working with our successful research call applicants Dr Koen van Dam, Dr Miao Guo and Dr Chris Mazur theme 2 is conducting a feasibility Study into green infrastructures interrelation with water-energy-waste nexus.

Background: With rapid urbanisation it becomes essential to plan effective use of land and other resources to support sustainable and resilient development. Green infrastructure plays a vital role in managing water, air quality as well as quality of life. However, such bio-physical systems are complex, spanning from plant-land-climate interaction to their interdependency with built environment (e.g. energy-water-waste infrastructure). Decision-support is needed to understand their impact on social systems and other physical infrastructure. Our existing framework includes an agent-based simulation modelof urban systems to test different socio-demographic scenarios generating demands for infrastructure services (e.g. energy, water), and resource technology network optimisation to achieve the trade-off between cost-optimal solutions, environmental targets and Sustainable Development Goals, but not yet covers bio-physical systems.

Objectives: The aim of this project is to see if it is feasible to include bio-physical systems (e.g. green infrastructure) interconnected with environmental variables into a systems engineering approach and model this within a socio-technical framework. Building on ongoing research at Imperial on, we aim to extend the model and test a case study in China’s Jingjinji Capital Economic Zone (one of 10 mega regions). This case study will examine the interdependency of these green infrastructure with energy-water-waste nexus and the potential of such infrastructure to clean contaminated land and play a role in managing flooding, leading to more resilient cities.

Potential industry impact: Decision support for design and evaluation of solutions under range of scenarios, which will be tested with our industry partners Turenscape on design as well as Resilience Brokers Ltd which focuses on city resilience and green growth transformation across 200 city regions. Through collaboration we demonstrate the real-world feasibility and cross-country learning.

Research call 2

Working with our successful research call applicant, Georgia Bateman, theme 3 is researching a model-based systems engineering approach to understanding emergency evacuation operations management in large, complex public occupancy buildings.

Background: The proper management of emergency evacuations in large, complex public occupancy buildings is crucial to their success, and therefore critical to the life safety of occupants. Especially with the recent increase in security and terrorism evacuation incidents (for example in 2016 a suspicious canister was found at London City Airport, and a suspected bomb discovered at the Emirates Stadium), ensuring the efficacious planning of these procedures is of paramount importance – and the first step towards this is determining the procedures that are currently employed. Large, complex public occupancy buildings such as stadia and airport terminals are comprised of many operational entities, which although may have strictly defined roles during day-to-day operations, may not be aware of their responsibilities during evacuation events. For example, should members of staff in concession outlets assist in directing evacuees during such an event, or leave the building as well? This information is crucial in assessing the planning of evacuation procedures, but is hard to obtain without speaking to and analysing information from industry practitioners directly involved in the planning of these procedures.

Objectives: The aim of this research is to use a systems engineering approach to obtain a better understanding of emergency evacuation events in airports and stadia. The scope of the proposed project will encompass the investigation of the responsibilities of the different entities within airport terminal buildings and stadia during evacuation events, and the communications (and methods of such communication) that occur between them. The research will use SysML as a modelling tool to achieve this aim.

Potential industry impact: The potential application to airport emergency management is large, and this is an area of significant interest due to increased security concerns at airports worldwide, in the wake of recent marauding terrorist firearms attacks and bombing incidents. Furthermore, through collaboration with the only worldwide body of its type looking at safety at sports stadiums, the Sports Ground Safety Authority, the potential impact on safety at sports stadia worldwide is large.

Update: This research project was completed over the course of three months during summer 2018, before presentation of results at the Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation Industry Showcase Event in September 2018. To achieve the research aims, one mid-size North American airport and two large sports stadiums in the UK were chosen as case study sites. Visits were made to each of these sites to observe them during operational periods (i.e. the stadiums on match days), before interviews with the heads of safety and security were conducted following the visits. Together with analysis of regulatory and planning documents, enough data was gathered with which modelling of the emergency evacuation management systems at each of these sites could be undertaken using SysML. Furthermore, through the recruitment of two UROP students we were able to further use SysML to map emergency and evacuation response plans in a small general aviation airport and medium sized stadium in North America. Structural diagrams were used to model both human and technological resources, and responsibilities of each job role, and behaviour diagrams were used to further detail the responsibilities of staff, and their interaction with technological emergency response systems.

Collaborations with the case study sites are still ongoing, and over the next few months they will be further contacted in order to validate the SysML diagrams produced during the project. The next step with this project is to account for the regulatory systems governing evacuation procedures in these buildings, which will be incorporated into the existing SysML diagrams using requirements diagrams. Collaboration with the Sports Ground Safety Authority is still on going, and we are looking to use results from this project to affect change on regulatory practices in sports stadiums in the UK. Finally, we are looking into publicising the results of this project at an international academic conference in 2019.

Research call 3

Our second theme 3 successful research call applicant, Dr John Craske, will be researching coupling physics, humans and machines in holistic, resilient and automated systems for building management.

Background: Buildings account for 40% of our energy demands and are pivotal in determining our health and well-being. However, our ability to design and control their internal environments is sub-optimal from a systems perspective. In spite of advances in flow modelling and control technology, building management systems (BMSs) are relatively crude and incorporate ad hoc rules for control. Systems responsible for the control of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting are rarely integrated. Typically, BMSs are not coupled with predictive models for building physics and do not adequately account for the fluctuating and evolving requirements of users.

Objectives: We will develop a software tool that allows students, researchers and practitioners to couple constituent models of an entire building system in a simple, flexible and informative manner. Our tool will provide an application programming interface to combine models of a building's climate, occupancy and management system. The tool will be adaptable to accommodate improvements and additions to the constituent models in the future.

Potential industry impact: Our tool will have the potential to (1) improve the energy efficiency and environmental conditions of buildings by providing a holistic framework for design and analysis; (2) increase productivity by automating the steps between model development and the implementation and calibration of a BMS; (3) increase the awareness and competency of practitioners and researchers in the future by providing an educational tool.