PhD Projects: Overview
Critical Infrastructure and Tourism using the Example of Cruise Tourism (Working Title)
The market for cruise tourism has been growing rapidly in the past few years. As a reaction to this development, ships with the possibility to transport more passengers are built and the amount of ships handled in the ports at the same time has increased. Therefore, seaports which are of tourist interest have to struggle with higher pressure. Lay days at ports and the position of tourist places in cities lead to temporal and spatial concentration of cruise tourists. Furthermore, there has to be the supply, loading and unloading of cruise ships, e.g. with freshwater, in the ports.
In all these events urban infrastructure systems, e.g. those of transport or water supply, are involved. This PhD project deals with the effects of cruise tourism on the infrastructure system of seaports with regard to the concept of criticality.
Dynamic, Intermodal Disruption Programs for Commuter Rail Lines – “S-Bahn”
The operational quality of railway systems during a disruption can be achieved through the implementation of pre-structured or predefined programs. The implementation of these predetermined action plans, namely “Disruption Programs” (DRPs), establish previously tested measures for handling diverse situations in an attempt to manage and overcome the hindered capacity of the network’s disrupted segments. This research focuses on increasing the overall preparedness of regional railway networks through the development of two logical procedures to be embedded within the DRPs of German commuter rail lines (“S-Bahn”). Initially, it puts forward an algorithm that allows the DRPs to assess the actual operating conditions (i.e. residual capacity) of existing public transport means throughout the most populated German cities, as a result, enabling a sound intermodal exchange of passengers during a disruption. Then, it proposes a second algorithm that would secure the efficient operational management of rail based vehicles in the interlude between the moment a network disruption takes place and the specific disruption program reaches a stable operation (during the “chaotic phase”).
Multiscale Information System for Emergency Management and Mission Planning
In an emergency situation information and knowledge are critical for effective mission planning and response actions. Even though large amounts of information are collected in the operational control center, there are two big problems that can be identified. Firstly, because of data complexity and the amount of unstructured information, emergency dispatchers tend to be overwhelmed due to a lacking information management and therefore cannot take advantage of the information. Secondly, a lot of information such as weather, social media, ad hoc information from emergency responders and so on, despite potentially being available, are not considered for the use in emergency response.
Within this thesis processes and information in the area of emergency response will be analyzed and a general data model for the representation of emergency-related information will be developed. Based on the data model data mining and information retrieval techniques as well as machine learning methods will be applied for automatically processing available data and information sources to help optimize the information management process. The research is focused on the integration and processing of so far unused information, especially ad hoc information and data from critical infrastructures such as telecommunication. Furthermore the effects and the perception of “knowing” and “not knowing” and how it can affect the decision making process are analyzed.
Nodes on the Net – Cities on the Rhine and Main as the starting-point of a medieval history of infrastructure?
In our modern everyday life, 'infrastructures' are ubiquitous, but what is this omnipresent 'infrastructure'? Especially in the field of medieval studies, it has not yet been conclusively defined whether this term is at all suitable for the period of the Middle Ages. And whether there can be a 'medieval history of infrastructure' as an independent field of research. Therefore, this dissertation project tries to investigate these questions and to design a theoretical framework for a possible infrastructure history of the Middle Ages under the condition of a dynamic understanding of criticality. Subsequently, the Rhine-Main river system will be presented as a network characterized by 'nodes' in the network (cities). the criticality Measurement' tool is used to determine the specific interfaces within the nodes and to record their significance.
Joyce Angnayeli Eledi Kuusaana (DAAD Scholar)
The Making of Urban Resilience: Critical Energy Infrastructure in Accra and Dar es Salaam (working title)
As in many African cities, the provision of critical infrastructure services in Accra (Ghana) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) has often been characterized by regular interruptions, breakdowns and failures of centralized networks. This research seeks to examine how various stakeholders improvise and develop creative responses in co-providing, supplementing, retrofitting and backing up unreliable power supply by centralized public systems. It seeks to create an understanding of the nature of vulnerability and the meaning of resilience in African cities while examining the role of urban and infrastructure planning and governance mechanisms in creating resilience in electricity service delivery.
The Changing Resilience and Vulnerability of Cities and the Electricity Sector in the Course of the Energy Transition
The energy transition brings about a multiplicity of socio-technical challenges, especially within the electricity sector. On the technological side electricity by often decentral and volatile renewable energy carriers needs to be integrated into the existing electricity infrastructure. System operators generally approach these technological challenges through an increasing implementation of information and communication technology (ICT) applications (e.g. in Smart Grids), however, creating new interdependencies between the critical infrastructures of energy and ICT. Besides the technological challenges also social changes occur due to the changing role of stakeholders (e.g. consumers becoming prosumers) and the organisational fragmentation of stakeholder responsibilities. The mentioned interdependencies can especially be seen in cities. Therefore, the dissertation project aims at analysing in how far the vulnerability and resilience of cities and urban distribution grids change in the course of the energy transition due to the inherent socio-technical changes.
A History of Medical and Technical Emergency Services in the United States and Germany from 1860 until 1990
The dissertation project researches the discursive and material construction of medical and technical emergency services in the U.S. and Germany between 1860 and 1990. The study analyzes the topic from three perspectives. First, from the viewpoint of cultural and social history, it is the author’s goal to investigate the structures of power that were inscribed into this infrastructure. By examining the historical character of emergency services, exclusion based on categories such as race, class or gender could be confronted in future preparedness plans. In addition, the project poses the question of how people came to perceive emergency services as “critical.” Had the criticality of death been different in times when emergency services did not exist? Have technologization, medicalization and the modern trust in the infallibility of humans constructed the need to be rescued? Or did emergency services finally offer a solution to an “old” problem: the anthropological crisis of death? Second, the study aims at depicting differences, similarities and interconnections of knowledge and practices between Germany and the U.S. This approach is crucial in order to analyze how the political, social and cultural context shaped the development of emergency services. Lastly, from the perspective of critical infrastructure studies and disaster management, the dissertation examines how emergency services became interdependent with other infrastructures. Similarly, it seeks to portray historical concepts of prevention and preparedness.
Bridging the gap: towards an urban policy mix for critical infrastructure resilience
Under the label of urban resilience (UR), cities start to prepare for a diverse range of risks deriving among others from climate change and natural hazards. This goes along with a growing interest of cities to restructure their networked infrastructure systems. However, it is argued that there is an implementation gap at urban scale when it comes to policies of critical infrastructure resilience (CIR). The proposed research project aims to identify potentials and barriers for policy design and implementation in the field of urban CIR by analysing pros and cons of the policy mix in two cities (Christchurch, New Zealand and Rotterdam, the Netherlands).
Assessment of infrastructure repairs and maintenance of water utilites companies in Accra and Dar Salaam cities
The connection between modern cities and networked infrastructures have become „tightly-coupled“ in recnt years, due primarily, to adavanement in technology. However, it is a fact that all functional infrastructures are inherently prone to disruptions and failures as part of their existence. Also, due to complex interdependencies, failures of one system could results in massive cascading disruptions in other networks in cities. Despite these, infrastructures tend to become invisibel and taken-for-granted at least, when they work perfectly. They only become visible when they breakdown and can no longer perform the usual functions. It is only within this period of breakdown and restoration that repairs and maintenance becomes central and crtical. This research seek to deepen our understanding of how disregards for maintenance and repairs among water utilities companies could affect water services in Accra and Dar salaam cities. The research primarily seek to examine water infrastrucures‘ repairs policies of the utilities companies, how repairs/maintenance is being funded, the coping strategies of residents to disruptions, and the spaitial vulnerability of infrastructures in the face of growing complexities in the 21st century.
Emanuel Lukio Mchome (DAAD Scholar)
A History of Electricity Blackouts and Resilience Strategies in Tanzania, 1900s to Present (working title)
The project examines interplay between social, political, technical and ideological forces which causes collapse of electric infrastructure in Tanzania. It uses historical perspective to unearth dynamics of blackout resilience strategies in the colonial and post-colonial Tanzania.
Significance of Traditional Water Mangement systems in current water supply systems: Case of Pune, India
The availability of safe, clean drinking water in a developing country like India is limited. Metropolitan cities like Pune and their hinterlands are solely dependent on the state provided networked water supply system. Population growth, urban sprawl and rapid increase in city boundaries exert tremendous pressure on the networked water supply system to meet the water requirement of the entire population. Not only is the current water supply system inefficient with regards to water loss due to its leaking pipes, but also in terms of ensuring equity of water usage by different people. To avoid this phenomenon, many water experts propose of reviving back the traditional decentralized water management practices, the traces of which can still be found in the city. This research attempts to gain a deeper understanding of these traditional water management principles in terms of their planning, community practices of maintaining them, and practices of maintaining communal harmony in case of water supply failure.
Infrastructures as Structuring Practices (working title)
In my dissertation I will initially follow a postphenomenological approach to analyze the mutual interaction and constitution of human beings and technology within an infrastructure framework. Later I will use this analysis to support my claim that infrastructures can be considered as reified epitomes of norms, rules and regulations, cultivated through dialectical interactions.
Based on recent works in the field of philosophy of technology I will try to provide insight into why actors work with infrastructures the way they do in the situations they find themselves in. This means a constant back and forth between transcendental and empirical analysis concerning the practical relations within infrastructures. A constant re-consideration of the hermeneutic position of these actors helps to avoid the traps of a deterministic interpretation of technology.
Since meaning is crucial to make informed as well as spontaneous decisions one of my main topics will be the analysis of the meaning that is established within the interactions of human beings and infrastructures. It is within this meaning were I believe the complex structure-dependent narratives of vulnerabilities and resilient planning emerge. It also allows me analyze infrastructural dependencies in a different way, thus shedding new light on known concepts like criticality, resilience and preparedness/preparation.
Infrastrukturen in den deutschen Schutzgebieten in Afrika 1880-1920 (Arbeitstitel)
Mein Promotionsvorhaben hat das Eisenbahn-, Straßen- und Telegraphenwesen sowie die Häfen als kritische Infrastrukturen der deutschen Schutzgebiete in Afrika im Zeitraum von 1880 bis 1920 zum Gegenstand. Im Zentrum der als interdisziplinäre Studie angelegten Untersuchung steht die Frage, ob das Ineinandergreifen und die damit einhergehenden Abhängigkeiten der genannten Infrastrukturen einerseits und die mangelnden Präventions- und Preparednessstrategien anderseits, nicht mit einer hohen Vulnerabilität des gesamten Verbundsystems von Infrastrukturen einhergingen. Es soll dabei aufgezeigt werden, dass Bau, Betrieb, Management, Verwaltung und Instandhaltung der kritischen Primärinfrastrukturen von Eisenbahnen, Straßen- und Telegraphennetze auf dem afrikanischen Kontinent die Entwicklung spezifische Lösungen und Praktiken erforderten. Diese konnten aber wiederum unter den diffizilen Bedingungen Afrikas selbst nicht funktionieren und bedürften einer Überarbeitung. Die dabei im Lauf der Zeit entwickelte Technik und das hierfür geschulte Personal stellte ihrerseits eine Sekundärinfrastruktur von hoher Kritikalität und Vulnerabilität dar.
Interactive Machine Learning of Arguments and Argumentative Structures
Let’s say we want to see how the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima in 2011 and Chernobyl 1986 affected the political argumentation around nuclear energy and the following decisions. We might start by reading all political debates around the events, but that will only give us the immediate vicinity of the event and not the long term opinions and arguments and it is time and labour intensive. Extracting the arguments automatically seems to be a great idea, but there are no pretrained models for argument extraction on political texts available. This is where my PhD project starts. My goal is to take a machine learning model which has been trained to extract arguments from, say essays to let an exert user interactively improve this model so that it fits the experts purpose. Of course, I cannot assume the expert to have any knowledge about machine learning, hence I need to allow the human to teach in a way that humans find natural and machines can understand.
Flood Waters along Rivers as a Threat to Urban Infrastructure in Germany during the 20th Century
Make straight in the Desert a Highway for our God! The Infrastructural Network of the Temple Society in Ottoman Palestine (working titel)
The project wants to take a look at the infrastructural efforts by the german „Temple Society“, from the then Kingdom of Württemberg, which colonized Palestine since 1868. The Templers were a pietistic group, which split themselves off the Lutheran Church in Württemberg and became convinced, that their salvation would be found in recultivating and preparing the „Holy Land“ for the second coming of Christ. For this purpose they founded settlements, improved access to holy sites in the region, established successfully carriage services and became very engaged in infrastructural projects in then Palestine. The network they helped to build was an important foundation for the further development of Palestine and Israel.
The work focusses especially on the both most important network junctions Jaffa and Haifa. In Haifa, the Templers helped through infrastructural projects to raise the former little town into one of the most important traffic junctions in Ottoman Palestine. But also the efforts to create a reliable connection from Jaffa to Jerusalem are highlighted by the project.
In the course of the project, I also want to take a look at how this „religious motivated infrastructure“ was legitimated, under which circumstances it was constructed and whether economical motives (carriage services, guesthouses, etc.) gradually replaced the eventual idealistic reasons for the development of the infrastructures. Furthermore I plan on examining the status which the infrastructure took place in the mindset and the plans the Templers through the concepts of Criticality and Vulnerability.
As well, I want to consider accompanying infrastructures, such as businesses and workshops (e.g. wagon building ventures, building companies,…), trading structures (trading wood for building the carriages) and similar aspects.