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Research Project

CPS: Synergy: Collaborative Research: Mapping and Querying Underground Infrastructure Systems

Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date
Funding Source
National Science Foundation


One of the challenges toward achieving the vision of smart cities is improving the state of the underground infrastructure. For example, large US cities have thousands of miles of aging water mains, resulting in hundreds of breaks every year, and a large percentage of water consumption that is unaccounted for. The goal of this project is to develop models and methods to generate, analyze, and share data on underground infrastructure systems, such as water, gas, electricity , and sewer networks. The interdisciplinary team of investigators from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Brown University, and Northwestern University will leverage partnerships with the cities of Chicago and Evanston, Illinois, to make the approach and findings relevant to their stakeholders. Research results will be incorporated in courses at the three institutions. Outreach efforts include events for K-12 students to develop awareness about underground infrastructure from a data and computational perspective. The results of the project will ultimately help municipalities maintain and renovate civil infrastructure in a more effective manner. Cities are cyber-physical systems on a grand scale, and developing a precise knowledge of their infrastructure is critical to building a foundation for the future smart city. This proposal takes an information centric approach based on the complex interaction among thematic data layers to developing, visualizing, querying, analyzing, and providing access to a comprehensive representation of the urban underground infrastructure starting from incomplete and imprecise data. Specifically, the project has the following main technical components: (1) Generation of accurate GIS-based representations of underground infrastructure systems from paper maps, CAD drawings, and other legacy data sources; (2) Visualization of multi-layer networks combining schematic overview diagrams with detailed geometric representations; (3) Query processing algorithms for integrating spatial, temporal, and network data about underground infrastructure systems; (4) Data analytics spanning heterogeneous geospatial data sources and incorporating uncertainty and constraints; (5) Selective access to stakeholders on a need-to-know basis and facilitating data sharing; and (6) Evaluation in collaboration with the cities of Chicago and Evanston.