Disaster Preparedness and Partnerships
The 2011 Regional Disaster Resilience (RDR) Guide for Developing an Action Plan (Guide) released in October is an updated and expanded version of the original Guide published in June, 2006 by The Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP). Like its predecessor, the updated Guide is a beneficial and usable tool that enables practitioners and experts from government, the private sector, and other interested organizations to develop and operationalize an actionable strategy and ongoing process to collectively improve capabilities to withstand major events and disasters in today’s complex and interdependent world.
The approach outlined in the updated Guide remains essentially the same holistic, systematic multistep process that provides a baseline of stakeholder-validated regional resilience needs and activities covering preparedness through long-term restoration. However, the Guide has been further refined through numerous applications and pilot projects across the United States and in Canada and updated with lessons learned from disasters and events over the past several years, including the 2011 Japanese subduction zone earthquake and tsunami; the 2011 New Zealand, 2010 Chile, and 2010 Haiti major earthquakes; and the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
The updated Guide also reflects the broader knowledge base on resilience that exists today, including a host of new “best practices” and the increasing focus on all-hazards that has gained traction in the last few years. It is designed to be complementary with United States federal infrastructure protection and disaster preparedness/management policies, directives, and programs, such as the 2010 National Security Strategy; National Infrastructure Protection Plan; and the National Response and National Recovery Frameworks. The Guide is also compatible with similar international activities and initiatives.
A Simple, “How To” Path to Resilience
TISP has been in the vanguard of those calling for a national focus on infrastructure and regional resilience since its inception in early 2002. The original Guide was a direct outgrowth of this recognition. TISP’s goal was to raise the awareness of and inform the broad stakeholder audience within the United States and worldwide on the importance of resilience. This updated Guide is likewise intended to strengthen infrastructure, organizational and regional resilience. As a result, it is written with minimal acronyms and in plain English, and provides users with key definitions and a set of fundamental principles that underpin disaster resilience.
Using a practical “how to” approach, the Guide lists 14 focus areas and respective detailed priority issues covering all hazards and recommends short, medium, and longer-term activities to address the respective shortfalls. It is important to note that the Guide is intended for the broad range of local to international stakeholders. Consequently, it does not recommend national and other public policies, nor government and commercially-developed tools and technologies.
TISP is developing an RDR Guide Toolkit as an online resource (www.tisp.org) that will provide information and useful templates. The RDR Toolkit will also provide links to government agency, private sector, and non-profit websites where users will find educational materials and information on available policies, tools, technologies, case studies, and best practices. This enables users to avoid “recreating the wheel” and fosters standardization across infrastructures and regions. The RDR Guide Toolkit website will also provide information and links to resilience initiatives, public-private partnerships, and contact information of TISP members who can provide additional advice and expertise on using the Guide. The Toolkit will be update routinely to ensure the latest information is available.
The Need for a Holistic Approach
There are a few closely related factors that necessitate development of a holistic, regional approach to all-hazards resilience that involves engaging the broad stakeholder community—Infrastructure Interdependencies, as well as Information Sharing and Public-Private Partnering.
In the past decade, infrastructures and other essential service providers that enable societies to thrive and grow have become increasingly interconnected and interdependent from the local to global levels. These infrastructures and assets include energy (electric power, natural gas, fuels); telecommunications; transportation (rail, road, maritime); water and water treatment systems; banking and finance; emergency services; government services; hospitals, healthcare and public health; agriculture and food; commercial facilities; nuclear reactors; materials and waste; dams and levees; manufacturing; chemical facilities; and postal and shipping.
To a large degree, this trend toward ever greater interconnectivity has been created by growing reliance on electronic systems and virtual systems, computer processing and the Internet for managing and operating systems and infrastructures. This interconnectivity and the resulting interdependencies can create unexpected vulnerabilities and significant consequences. Although security and disaster management practitioners are beginning to focus on interdependencies and the vital connection with resilience, there remains limited understanding of them, the vulnerabilities they create, and how to prevent or lessen their impacts. Disruptions in one infrastructure can cascade, affecting more than one infrastructure and impacting essential government services, businesses, and individuals in a region with far-reaching health and human safety, societal, economic, environmental, and national security consequences. The Guide includes a short a brief primer of infrastructure interdependencies for your review. In 2012, TISP and its partners will develop an Infrastructure Interdependencies Workshop for communities and organizations to assess their interconnectivity vulnerabilities and prioritize actions to be taken to mitigate, protect or reduce consequences as an additional option to begin addressing regional disaster resilience and preparedness.
Information Sharing and Public-Private Partnering
Understanding infrastructure interdependencies necessitates bringing together local public, private, and other stakeholders with state and federal partners to share information and address regional vulnerabilities and consequences under different scenarios. To accomplish this is greatly challenging, given cultural, legal and bureaucratic constraints and the need to ensure security of sensitive and proprietary data. The key is to create, maintain and sustain public-private networks to provide trusted forums to identify resilience needs and gaps and facilitate continual resilience improvements at the organizational and regional levels.
How the Guide was Developed—the TISP Regional Infrastructure and Disaster Resilience (RIDR) Task Force
For the original Guide, a Task Force was convened of more than a 100 practitioners and experts from federal, state, and local government and private sector organizations, associations, and academic institutions. For the updated Guide, a similar Task Force was established, but with an expanded mandate to focus on resilience needs at the asset level with the intent of producing a companion Infrastructure Resilience Primer and Toolkit for senior public and private sector executives.
This RIDR Task Force also included representatives from organizations and associations that had similar resilience activities underway, such as ASIS International, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the Community Resilience System Initiative (CRSI). This influx of new members and ideas further boosted the diversity and depth of the Task Force and has increased the utility of the updated Guide.
The RIDR Task Force met in the spring of 2010 in a day-long kickoff workshop and then held regular conference calls over several months to review, comment, and incorporate ideas and inputs into successive drafts. The Task Force reconvened to assess progress on the Guide with the broader TISP membership and interested organizations on December 7, 2010 in Grapevine, Texas at the TISP Annual Infrastructure and Regional Resilience Conference. The final draft underwent multiple broad stakeholder reviews before it was completed by the Task Force and published.
Ensuring the Guide is Usable and Used
The original Guide was widely used by Federal agencies such as FEMA and USACE, by State such as Washington, Maryland and Delaware communities such as City of Keene and Seattle, and not-for-profit organizations such as the Pacific Northwest Economic Region and the American Water Works Association. Before undertaking the revision of the original Guide, TISP polled its members and Guide users to ask what they most appreciated about it and wanted to see in the updated version. Characteristics most cited were the Guide’s simplicity, readability, and short, checklist format. They also wanted access to resources and expertise that could help operationalize the Guide. There are a wealth of policies, approaches, plans, tools, technologies and other capabilities available that can be utilized for this purpose.
Much of this information and many of these capabilities have been developed by U.S. federal agencies and other national and international government organizations, as well as state and local agencies, the private sector, and non-profit organizations.
TISP developed partnerships with the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, the National Emergency Management Association, the National Association of Development Organizations, and the Society of American Military Engineers to help disseminate the Guide. Each of the SAME Posts will receive copies of the Guide to share with its partners. The first step to moving forward with regional disaster resilience planning is for one organization to convene regional stakeholders and discuss the value of disaster preparedness and resilience. Resilient communities are good places for businesses and families to grow.
The Guide is available on the TISP website (www.tisp.com) in a PDF format for organizations to free print for their use. Hardcopies of the Guide may be order on the website for $25 per copy.
Special Thank You’s
TISP extends a special thank you to the following organizations and individuals which contributed significant time, resources, and expertise to develop this document. Because of their dedication, the 2011 Regional Disaster Resilience Guide provides state and community leaders with a path to become better prepared and more resilient to all hazards. Without their contributions to the 2011 Guide, none of this could have been resolved.
MICHAEL BAKER JR., INC. contributed to the overall design/layout, illustration and technical editing of the Regional Disaster Resilience Guide.
PARSONS contributed their time and materials in the professional printing of the Regional Disaster Resilience Guide.
PAULA SCALINGI, Ph.D. of THE SCALINGI GROUP, led and coordinated the efforts in the development of the Regional Disaster Resilience Guide contact.
SOCIETY OF AMERICAN MILITARY ENGINEERS (SAME), is the secretariat for TISP and as such, has been its biggest benefactor. We greatly appreciate SAME’s staff and members for their continued support.
REGIONAL AND INFRASTRUCTURE DISASTER RESILIENCE TASK FORCE, volunteers of the task force that participated in countless conference calls, provided their time and expertise and dedication in the development of the Regional Disaster Resilience Guide.
In a true model of public-private partnership, TISP did not receive direct funding for the development of the guide; therefore, TISP is extremely grateful and proud of its hard working volunteers and contributing organizations for the successful completion of The 2011 Edition.