Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Ross Corotis

Second Advisor

Abbie Liel

Third Advisor

Nevis Cook


Interdependencies amongst infrastructure systems including transportation, water, electrical, and communication systems have increased drastically with the rising level of complexity in developed cities. Previously independent systems now heavily rely on the interconnections between reliant systems. As complex networks have evolved, they have magnified existing levels of vulnerability in densely populated areas. These interdependencies must be identified and addressed, requiring extensive communication among planning agencies and organizations at all levels: federal, state and local. The Denver Region in Colorado, USA is used as an example case study showing several of the existing physical and geographical interdependencies (using the program, ArcGIS, developed by ESRI), and looking at how future development plans, anticipating an estimated increase in population growth, are heightening current vulnerability levels. The criticality of these identified interdependencies is shown by discussing the effects from potential stressors prevalent to the Denver Region, including an earthquake, flooding, and the transportation of hazardous materials along a major corridor. Additionally, the type and frequency of communication between key planning agencies and organizations in the Denver Region is investigated through a survey to determine if the potential threat from natural disasters, man-made hazards, intentional attack or population growth are key topics being communicated in order to ensure that the possible effects of these stressors on the existing systemic interdependencies are being addressed. Case studies at a local level are critical in understanding the infrastructure network connecting adjacent regions as well as on a nationwide level. In addition, interviews were conducted with key personnel in several Denver regional agencies in order to directly reveal their views on interdependencies among various infrastructure systems and emergency preparedness strategies.