Research by: Jesus Felix B. Valenzuela, Erika Fille T. Legara, & Christopher P. Monterola
Natural disasters cause massive loss of life and property when they occur. Annual death tolls and property losses from such disasters number in the thousands of lives and millions of dollars; in 2018 alone, 315 reported natural disasters affected 68.5 million people, caused 11,804 deaths, and US$ 132 million in economic losses. Losses from such disasters are prone to mount in the aftermath unless relief measures are promptly set in motion and much–needed supplies reach those affected. This is of concern, especially for urban and metropolitan areas, where relief goods and services rely partly on the local road network infrastructure. Thus, finding out the robustness (or lack thereof) of a city’s road network topology becomes a critical step in planning for disasters that may hit a city.
In this paper, we perform graph-theoretic vulnerability analyses of the road networks of world urban areas at two different points in time (2014 and 2019). In particular, we examine how the time accessibility of points on a city’s road network changes in response to progressive, disaster-induced network degradation. We find that, far from falling on a continuum, cities worldwide fall into a discrete number of families or clusters: “resilient” cities, comprising the majority in both sets, “vulnerable” cities, and outliers, for which more information are needed. Members of each cluster share a common vulnerability behavior in response to progressive damage. In addition, we find that two network characteristics, proxies for a city’s size and the complexity of its road network, are the strongest predictors of vulnerability.
Being one of the first large-scale analyses of city road networks worldwide using open data (OpenStreetMap), we contribute to vulnerability and resilience studies, which are traditionally dominated by single-city or few-city case studies. Thus, our work offers a vulnerability typology metric, a first of its kind, that classifies cities according to how their road networks are vulnerable to disaster-induced damage and degradation. By identifying commonalities in damage response behavior between cities of the same family, we can thus facilitate the adoption and diffusion of effective disaster mitigation and management strategies.
A network-based assessment of a city’s road infrastructure offers valuable insights and identifies systemic weaknesses that must be accounted for when planning for emergency relief.
Keywords: city road networks; complex network analysis; disaster vulnerability and resilience; clustering; typology
To cite this article: Valenzuela, J. F., Legara, E.F., & Monterola, C. P. (2022). Typology, network features and damage response in worldwide urban road systems. PLoS ONE, 17(3), e0264546. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0264546
To access this article: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0264546
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