US-based National Science Foundation (NSF) has allocated $13.7m of grants for developing a new cyber platform, in a project being led by the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas in Austin.

The initiative is expected to strengthen cyber infrastructure and provide better protection for lives, properties and communities.

The technology is intended to assist engineers developing resilient structures, offering a greater capacity to withstand natural hazards involving earthquakes or windstorms.

Development of a software platform, data repository and tools will be separate parts of the project that will support the US with designing stronger buildings, levees, and other public infrastructures.

"There is tremendous potential to save lives and property through better engineering, design and planning."

Named DesignSafe, the planned resource-sharing web platform will involve the use of analytics, storage, visualisation and cloud technologies, and will be developed at the university’s Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC).

The project will facilitate the creation of computer models and simulations of natural hazards, to be validated against real-world information, thus offering an easily accessible resource for national natural disaster researchers.

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It will also allow researchers to integrate data on types of materials, building costs and designs, as well as societal data about residents living in and around the infrastructure.

Cockrell School civil engineering professor and DesignSafe principal investigator Ellen Rathje said: "We are bringing together our expertise in engineering and information technology to develop the best tools to help engineers better understand the impact of natural hazards on our cities and infrastructure.

"There is tremendous potential to save lives and property through better engineering, design and planning. The platform we develop here will help engineers use data and simulation to improve the design and planning processes."

The grant for the cyber infrastructure is a part of the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) programme initiated by NSF.

DesignSafe is expected to be launched during the next eight months.