skip to main content

CIRI introduces five new DHS-funded projects

3/13/2019 Ashley Albrecht, CIRI

The Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI), a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center of Excellence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), has selected five new research projects for funding through a nationwide solicitation. The projects, chosen from dozens of submissions, add to CIRI’s growing body of research, which aims to enhance the resilience and security of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

The new projects tackle such diverse topics as applying artificial intelligence to disaster response, improving the resilience of Internet of Things-enabled critical infrastructure systems, mitigating threats posed by both nuclear and non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse and geomagnetic disturbances, and using natural language processing to analyze data from social networks­­ for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. The new projects join six other projects that are already part of CIRI’s portfolio.

Learn more about the new projects below:

“EMP Risk Assessment and Mitigation Prioritization” - Synclesis, Inc., aims to develop a strategy to mitigate the threats posed by both nuclear and non-nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and Geomagnetic Disturbances (GMD), both of which can paralyze critical infrastructure. A straight-forward example includes the detonation of an EMP or a solar storm that paralyzes a city’s electrical power grid, in addition to its communication and computing infrastructure. The company intends to develop sound modeling and simulation tools to predict and assess the impact of EMP/GMD events. 

“Hybrid Quantum-Classical Reinforcement Learning in Controlled Quantum Networks” - University of Tennessee Physics Professor George Siopsis and University of Calgary Physics Professor Barry Sanders are working on the application of quantum technologies to safeguard critical infrastructure.  They aim to find a quantum enhancement for machine learning, specifically the method of quantum annealing.  Software will be developed to allow for quantum enhancement of tools utilized by DHS. Siopsis and Sanders will also be working in partnership with Dr. Radhakrishnan Balu from the Army Research Laboratory and Dr. Marouane Salhi from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“Leveraging AI for Disaster Response: Scalable and effective algorithms for strategic planning and tactical response” - Bistra Dilkina, the Gabilan Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southern California (USC) and Associate Director of the Center for AI in Society (CAIS), is researching ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) techniques can inform planning and response to both man-made and natural disasters. Dilkina and her team will compare disaster management (includeing planning and response) decisions informed by AI-based techniques to the more reactive, human-limited decision-making which has characterized disaster management to date.  The dual-institution (UIUC, USC) project will also involve collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Multi-Layer Cyber-Physical Supply Chain Risk Analysis for Improving the Resilience of IoT-Enabled Critical Infrastructures” - New York University Computer Science Professor Nasir Memon proposes to improve the resilience of Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled critical infrastructure systems, such as found in the energy, transportation, and communications sectors. As the vast majority of critical infrastructure systems are interdependent, it is imperative to analyze the cyber-physical risks that each type of infrastructure faces, as a cascade effect can occur in the event of a disruption.
Jana Diesner
Jana Diesner
Reliable Extraction of Emergency Response Networks from Text Data and Bench Marking with National Emergency Response Guidelines” - Associate Professor Jana Diesner, a member of the University of Illinois’ School of Information Sciences, aims to employ techniques from natural language processing to analyze data from social networks (such as Twitter) to identify and evaluate multi-modal networks involved in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.  She intends to compare empirical evidence derived from text data against the expected response behavior, as set out in national guidelines, such as DHS’s National Response Framework, to identify congruence and opportunities and needs for policy change.

About CIRI

The Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI) conducts research and education that enhances the resiliency of the nation’s critical infrastructures and the businesses and public entities that own and operate those assets and systems. The Institute is carrying out its mission by emphasizing outputs-oriented research, technology transition, and workforce development. CIRI is funded by a $20 million five-year grant from the Department of Homeland Security. It is led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with collaborators from other U.S. universities and national labs.