Developed through NZ Research;
Applied in Practice

Economics of Resilient Infrastructure (ERI) Research Programme

MERIT was initially developed by the Economics of Resilient Infrastructure (ERI) team as part of a 4-year research project funded by the New Zealand government.  Funding of $2.8 m for this project was granted in the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s 2012 Investment Round. The project ran from 2012 to 2016.

Research aims

The ERI research programme aimed to develop an integrated spatial decision support system to enable users to value improvements in infrastructure resilience, and to assess the economic implications of infrastructure recovery decisions.

In particular, the project sought to explore:

  • Temporal and spatial changes in GDP, employment, income, and capital markets from different types and scales (size, duration) of infrastructure failures.
  • Causal mechanisms through time (interdependencies, cascading effects, feedbacks and lags) that explain the temporal and spatial changes.
  • Major changes in post-event business behaviour that influence the economic impacts.
  • Effects of pre-event mitigation and post-event adaptation options (e.g. policy, choices, infrastructure provider actions, business behaviours).

Project team

A large team of researchers were involved over the four year project, including:

ERI Leadership Team

  • Michele Daly, GNS Science
  • Erica Seville, Resilient Organisations
  • Garry McDonald, ME Research
  • Rob Buxton, GNS Science


  • Emily Grace, GNS Science
  • Natalia Deligne, GNS Science
  • Sally Potter, GNS Science
  • Charlotte Brown, Resilient Organisations
  • Joanne Stevenson, Resilient Organisations
  • John Vargo, Resilient Organisations
  • Nicola Smith, ME Research
  • Emily Harvey, ME Research
  • John (Joon-Hwan) Kim, ME Research

Researchers contd.

  • Sonia Giovinazzi, University of Canterbury
  • Tom Wilson, University of Canterbury
  • Daniel Blake, University of Canterbury student
  • Alistair Davies, University of Canterbury student
  • Josh Hayes, University of Canterbury student
  • Grant Wilson, University of Canterbury student
  • Hedwig van Delden, Research Institute of Knowledge Systems (RIKS)
  • Roel Vanhout, Research Institute of Knowledge Systems (RIKS)
  • Regan Solomon, Auckland Council

Ongoing development

Since the completion of the original ERI research programme, development of the MERIT suite of tools has continued through other research and applied projects.  These projects have extended our knowledge and understanding of MERIT and will contribute to the continuing development of future additional modules.

Resilience National Science Challenge (RNC)

MERIT is being further developed under RNC (which will include the Natural Hazards Research Platform from October 2019). There are several workstreams:

  • Creating inoperability capabilities between multi-hazard, risk (e.g. RiskScape), and infrastructure (including interdependency) models, enabling a rapid end-to-end assessment of impacts; and
  • A broader and deeper MERIT impact ‘lens’ to account for additional impacts including dynamic household type, business value chain, and multiple capital (economic, social, environmental, etc); and
  • Uncertainty quantification associated with key model input parameters; and
  • Improved embedding of the MERIT suite into emerging decision-making processes e.g. robust decision-making, dynamic adaptive policy pathways, hedging strategies and real options.

Natural Hazards Research Platform (NHRP)

  • Productivity impacts of disruption, and in particular government sector productivity.
  • Modelling and communicating uncertainty.


  • Tourism impacts following a major disaster.
  • The process of reconstruction following a disaster.

Wellington Resilience Programme Business Case Project

  • Population movement and business relocation following major disruption events.
  • Deriving service outage maps directly from infrastructure damage states.


  • An online version of the non-spatial MERIT was developed under funding from NZTA.
  • Transport MERIT was designed as part of a wider package of tools for assessing the economic impacts associated with an outage in the State Highway network.  A front-end GIS tool, developed by Abley Transportation Consultants, selects any segment of the State Highway network and, in turn, simulates the consequential changes in freight and passenger transportation associated with re-routing. This information is then fed into the online version of non-spatial MERIT and the economic impacts of the outage reported.
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