Given a feature data set of a country the includes layers that cover the countries infrastructure ( such as gas and electric networks, roads, rail etc...) and Landscan data detailing population does anybody know of any tools or techniques that can be used to determine critical infrastructure nodes (I.e. those node which would effect the most population if taken offline).
I am looking into this as part of a disaster response preparedness.
More than providing a straight answer, I have an idea as to a process that may help you find an answer. What you're really asking for is a measure of centrality. There are many different ways to quantify aspects of centrality. Here is a quick primer on some of the more common measures and the math behind them. Perhaps this will give you a place to start. I am a criminologist/consulting detective. I use these measures to determine who in a network of criminals is more important to the overall functioning of their group. There's an incredible Excel template called NodeXL that might help you.
I know all this is pretty roundabout, but maybe it will spur your thinking.
If I get it right, the task you want to do is actually Location-allocation from Network Analyst. Take a look at the documentation and esri videos http://video.esri.com/watch/2916/network-analyst-an-introduction
keep in mind that Network Analyst license is required
Thanks for the suggestions, I have previously looked at Location-allocation but this is not what I require. The issue I have is the networks are pre-existing and I want to try and see if I can use GIS to find critical nodes across all the networks (interlinked). This could be those nodes which would effect the most population if taken offline (in case of a water treatment plant or power station) or nodes that can have secondary effects, such as if a rail bridge collapses does this have a knock on effect meaning that coal cannot be delivered to a power station which then in turn effects the power output which could then effect something else and so on....