The Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a distributed, multi-user national facility to provide the natural hazards engineering research community with access to research infrastructure that includes earthquake and wind engineering experimental facilities, cyberinfrastructure (CI), computational modeling and simulation tools, high performance computing resources, and research data, as well as education and community outreach activities. Originally funded under NSF 14-605 and NSF 15-598, NHERI has operated since 2015 through separate, but coordinated, five-year research infrastructure awards for a Network Coordination Office, CI, Computational Modeling and Simulation Center (SimCenter), and Experimental Facilities, including a post-disaster, rapid response research facility. This award will renew the CI component of NHERI from October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2025. Through this award, the University of Texas at Austin and its partners (Calvin College; Florida Institute of Technology; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, San Diego; University of Notre Dame; University of Washington; and William Marsh Rice University) will continue to maintain, operate, and enhance the NHERI CI DesignSafe web portal (www.DesignSafe-ci.org), a CI that provides data, tools, and computational resources to enable research to mitigate the impact of natural hazards, such as earthquakes, windstorms, tsunamis, and storm surge, on the nationâ€™s civil infrastructure and communities. In DesignSafe, experimental, simulation, social sciences, and post-disaster reconnaissance data will be curated, published, and made publicly available in the Data Depot data repository, while tools for data analysis and computational modeling and simulation will be provided in the Workspace. The Reconnaissance Portal will provide a clearinghouse for data products and lessons learned from natural hazard events in the United States and abroad. Online and in-person training will be delivered through the Learning Center to enable the next generation of researchers to use the advanced capabilities provided by DesignSafe. The annual DesignSafe CI Institute will enable graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to work closely with project staff to implement their workflows. The portfolio of DesignSafe capabilities will enable new research discoveries that can help protect human life, reduce damage, and minimize economic losses during natural hazard events. This award will contribute to NSF's role in the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP).
The grand research challenges in natural hazards engineering, as outlined in the NHERI Science Plan (https://doi.org/10.17603/ds2-4s85-mc54), require access to big data, cloud-based computational and simulation tools, and high performance computing resources, and DesignSafe will provide the resources to deliver these capabilities. The key to addressing these challenges and transforming research in natural hazards engineering is transforming research workflows through access to the required data, tools, and resources. DesignSafe will provide the foundational building blocks that users can combine to generate transformative workflows, and will deliver enhanced capabilities in promising areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. These enhanced capabilities include: (1) the Data Depot with new features related to versioning, metrics, search, structured data, and tool launching; (2) the Reconnaissance Portal with new features to support analysis of geospatial datasets; and (3) the Workspace with new features, including artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, SimCenter tools, and Jupyter capabilities, to support workflows within different computing environments. The capabilities available at DesignSafe will also provide the foundation for enhancing the computational skills of the research community in natural hazards engineering and to develop a cyber-enabled workforce.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.