Given increasing threats of extreme weather events, facility planners and policymakers need state-of-the-art information that projects long-term environmental risk and informs how these events may alter the replacement schedules and the performance profiles of individual facilities and their constituent systems and components. The BUILDER Sustainment Management System (SMS)—the lifecycle management tool used by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to consistently and comprehensively assess and forecast facility conditions—did not consider vulnerability to extreme weather events. This project involved developing a plug-in for BUILDER that allows users to visualize weather event projections and re-prioritize infrastructure maintenance and/or replacement schedules, and assess costs, according to the likelihood and severity of these events.

Technology Description

This Weather Effects on the Lifecycle of DoD Equipment Replacement (WELDER) project involved working with partners at DoD organizations and demonstration sites to design and test a capability-enhancement module to BUILDER that enables users for the first time to produce high-spatial-resolution extreme weather projections, along with metrics communicating the likelihood (or uncertainty) of impacts. WELDER alters BUILDER component degradation curves and associated component/system/facility condition indices and lifespans—according to region-specific extreme weather scenarios as well as their likelihood of occurrence. WELDER enables BUILDER to generate alternative Work Action reports—with estimated costs—that are re-prioritized given the likelihood of extreme event threats and possible impacts to facilities (and components within). At a high-level, the project team deemed this effort to be successful if (1) DoD site partners were involved in the initial design and testing of WELDER and (2) the technology produces extreme weather likelihoods, generates alternative Work Action reports, and communicates equipment repair/replacement cost scenarios that can be aggregated for a wide range of stakeholders. The WELDER system helps users make informed decisions about facility sustainment, restoration, and modernization activities under different extreme weather scenarios. WELDER will also provide policymakers with the ability to aggregate the costs of these repair and replacement activities—under different threat and response scenarios— to the system-, facility-, site-, and organization-level.

Demonstration Results

The research team completed all of the major components of the WELDER system, including a database of state-of-the-art extreme weather metrics relevant to DoD sites, the distress (damage) association matrix relating changes in extreme weather to changes in DoD facility component- level replacement schedules, and an interface that allows users to visualize extreme weather threats, their likelihood, and any associated impact to DoD infrastructure. The project team has connected the WELDER system to a test version of BUILDER thus allowing both systems to communicate with one another. Unforeseen deployment issues prevented the project team from widely deploying WELDER for all BUILDER users, but the research team is in the process of identifying work-around solutions to ensure that this tool is deployed in the not-too-distant future. Once deployed across DoD sites, WELDER will result in no additional costs to users of BUILDER.

Implementation Issues

At this time, WELDER has not been connected to the production-version of the BUILDER Sustainment Management System due to an unforeseen issue with the classification of information contained within the BUILDER SMS. As a temporary work-around, the research team developed the WELDER system using synthetic (i.e., masked) BUILDER data that does not violate restrictions on the BUILDER data. In addition, the research team connected WELDER to a test-version of BUILDER to demonstrate that these two systems could communicate with one another. The research team is actively exploring other options to connect WELDER to the production-version of BUILDER. Once WELDER is connected to the production-version of BUILDER, then the research team will conduct complete end-to-end testing and allow demonstration site partners the ability to provide feedback on how the system performs at their specific location. The project team is confident that they will be able to solve these unforeseen deployment challenges over the coming months.

Additional Research and Development Needs

Demonstration site partners suggested (1) including systematically collecting component damage information in the immediate aftermath of a disaster; (2) incorporating WELDER into the Enterprise SMS, which is under development; and (3) continuously updating the extreme weather projections as new climate projections become available. Unfortunately, addressing these suggestions were beyond the scope of this project.