Enhancing Community Resilience and Optimizing Oil Spill Response through the Participatory Design of a Decision Support System

Project: Research project

Project Details


Enhancing Community Resilience and Optimizing Oil Spill Response through the Participatory Design of a Decision Support System Enhancing Community Resilience and Optimizing Oil Spill Response through the Participatory Design of a Decision Support System In the United States, there is a growing interest in the vulnerability of complex social, economic and environmental systems. For example, consider the impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. In addition to the release of ~4.5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), eleven workers on the platform died, the spill lasted nearly three months, and at its peak, almost 87,000 square miles of fishable waters were closed. With 537,000 ocean sector employees and nearly $98 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) tied to these waters, the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill on the U.S. economy, environment, and hundreds of communities ringing the GOM was significant. Questions pertaining to the resilience of coastal communities, broadly defined (e.g., social, economic, environmental, cultural), are important when developing mitigation strategies for extreme events. So too are the operational challenges associated with allocating and dispatching human resources, equipment and supplies to areas impacted by a disaster. The purpose of this project is to develop a new, open source, spatial decision support system (SDSS) that will minimize the environmental, economic and social impacts of oil spills by optimizing the allocation of response crews and equipment, in both the marine and terrestrial environment. The SDSS will be developed using the principles of participatory design, engaging stakeholders and community leaders throughout the process to ensure usability, as well as meeting planning and response needs in the field. The SDSS will offer a number of newly developed, spatially and temporally explicit mathematical programming models that will drastically enhance oil spill response efficiency and efficacy. The SDSS will be informed, at least in part, by the Blowout and Spill Occurrence Model (BLOSOM), although it will accept and process input from other modeling packages. BLOSOM will be used to generate hundreds of deep water and ultra-deep water oil spills, with varying conditions and parameters, to identify which locations are most susceptible to oiling and associated damage. These spill scenarios will also be used to inform the embedded optimization models for dispatching containment and mitigation teams. The SDSS will have access to a comprehensive suite of high-resolution demographic, environmental and socioeconomic data that can be used to develop vulnerability metrics and allied response metrics for communities along the GOM. Lastly, SDSS will have significant data wrangling and geovisualization capabilities, allowing for the flexible exploration of alternative planning scenarios, model solutions and response plans to tailor mitigation efforts at both the local and regional levels. The proposed research is both important and innovative. First, it will directly address the resilience of communities along the GOM and help frame the complex interactions between offshore oil and gas operations and local social, economic, and environmental systems. Second, rather than fostering a culture of reaction, the SDSS and embedded scenario planning tools will allow communities to proactively plan for extreme events and develop response strategies that minimize the impacts of spills. Finally, the open source design of the SDSS ensures broad distribution and participation.
Effective start/end date10/1/169/30/18


  • National Academies: $459,502.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.