CIrcle – Critical Infrastructures: Relations and Consequences for Life and Environment

The immediate impact of a flood can be estimated and calculated reasonably accurately but considerable uncertainty still surrounds the indirect impact, the “cascading” effects. Research is being conducted at the national and international levels to see how cascading effects can be analysed. One factor is that it is difficult to obtain sound data. A lot of data from, for example, energy companies include sensitive information and so they are not released. Two case studies in the Netherlands have proved that cascading effects can be analysed by using open data. By combining data with expert knowledge, it was possible to complete these analyses quickly and accurately, and grid operators think the results are highly probable.

CIrcle is a touchtable application for working with stakeholders on cascading effects. Deltares developed CIrcle as a way of collecting expert knowledge. It can be used at workshops where a range of grid operators and stakeholders in a particular area contribute their expertise and draw in cascading effects.

During their talks with one another, important information emerges without the necessity to supply that information in a precise GIS map. For example: 25 to 50 centimetres of water causes short-circuits in network control cabinets and when the electricity supply fails, back-up facilities on industrial areas are needed for three days. These relationships are known as ‘causal links’. The database supporting CIrcle collects these links and uses them in combination with flood models, such as Delft3D FM, and open data to visualise the cascading effects. These results can then be presented immediately and assessed by the participants.

It costs a great deal of time to collect data for the analysis of cascading effects but using open data accelerates the process considerably. As a result of approaching stakeholders differently and using CIrcle to transform open data into valuable information, the rapid analyses of cascading effects are becoming increasingly detailed. They can therefore be used not only in planning processes but also in emergency-response organisations during crises.CIrcle provides a picture not only of the cascading effects themselves but also of the impact: can a network still be repaired after a particular level of damage, or will it need replacing? How long will that take? This makes CIrcle an important instrument for impact and resilience analyses.

Participants of a CIrcle workshop indicate some of the cascading effects

Workshop participant: “It was inspiring to meet the different stakeholders, and to learn about the dependencies between critical infrastructures”

At present, CIrcle is used for floods, but it can also be used for other threats such as earthquakes and water shortages. In addition, several causal links between networks are universal, and not specific to floods. As a result, cascading effects after any network failure can be predicted and analysed.

If you want to see more of CIrcle, please check out the iDlab movie.


CIrcle - Critical Infrastructures Relations and Consequences for Life and EnvironmentCIrcle - Critical Infrastructures Relations and Consequences for Life and Environment


CIrcle - Critical Infrastructures Relations and Consequences for Life and Environment


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