The University of Southampton


Disaster Management, Crowd Sourcing, Data Science / Big Data

DESURBS developed information tools to assist spatial planning professionals and urban managers to create and maintain safer urban spaces. The scope of the project was to make improvements by contributing new methodologies to aid in planning, design and engineering of urban spaces to make them less vulnerable to security threats. DESURBS had as a primary objective with the creation of a range of databases, tools and approaches that can be re-used, alone or in combination, by urban space stakeholders to create new, safer spaces or to reinforce existing urban infrastructure to make them more secure for people and for the surrounding environment. The range of threats and hazards covered in the project included terror, industrial accidents, crowd control issues such as stampede threat, and natural hazards like earthquakes, flood, landslide and volcanoes.

The consolidative tool of the project is the DESURBS Decision Support System Portal (DSSP) developed by Dr Sabeur's project team at the university of Southampton IT Innovation Centre. The web-based interactive technology was realized to help enable users to distinguish between strengths and weaknesses in urban spaces. This will allow them to recognize, minimize or remove the threats they face. It combines a number of the project’s technologies and results in a user-friendly package targeting urban planners, designers and engineers. The DSSP comprises an integrated security resilience design and assessment framework incorporating supporting tools to engage and support local stakeholders in recognizing weaknesses and enhancing urban spaces that might be subjected to security threats. The portal also contains an evolving urban space security event database that includes incidents with negative or potentially negative consequences, as well as preventive cases that illustrate current best practice.

Other DESURBS tools include modelling and computation based geotechnical strength-of-materials database incorporating failure calibration curves to optimize structural engineering materials decisions; a vulnerability curves database and visualization application for analyzing weak points in buildings and structures subjected to earthquake and blast; and an agent-based dynamic modelling tool for simulating urban catastrophe management scenarios. Additionally, a smart phone applications "MySafe" for crowd perception of safety in urban spaces, as well as two-way communication between authorities and citizens for security reporting have been developed and tested by Dr Sabeur's team. A second tailored security incidents mapping and visualisation tool has been realized in the project in collaboration with the University of Loughborough and Warwick.

Primary investigator

Secondary investigators


  • University of Warwick
  • University of Loughborough
  • University of Crete (Greece)
  • Research Management SA (NORWAY)
  • CIMNE (Spain)

Associated research group

  • IT Innovation Centre
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