Thad Allen, former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, once pointed out that a resilient region is like a healthy immune system: rather than preparing for every possible scenario, the region fortifies its underlying resources and capabilities to quickly mobilize and respond to any disruptive event.
The extent of damage and recovery time in a region often depend on the pre-existing conditions, not just the severity of the assault. Although the timing, size, location, and strength of a disaster often cannot be controlled, the pre-existing conditions can.
Nexight Group supported a recent study by the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council that identified eight characteristics of resilient regions. Building on the immune system analogy, they represent practical areas where public and private stakeholders can focus their efforts and resources to improve regional resilience:
- Strategic Intent and Unity of Effort: Resilient regions have strong leaders in both industry and government who motivate diverse partners to align toward common objectives.
- Partnerships and Executive Engagement: Public-private partnerships across critical sectors help to “build in” resilience, remove red tape, allocate resources, and accelerate a coordinated response.
- Elevated Priority of Lifeline Functions: The energy, communication, water, and transportation sectors underpin the most essential functions of business, government, and communities. They are top priorities for response and recovery because their disruption greatly affects other sectors and regions.
- Healthy and Active Community Resources: Resilient communities have a strong and prepared public that resists victimization and actively contributes to public health and safety and service restoration during immediate response and long-term recovery.
- Exercised Coordination and Information Sharing: Regions that participate in joint, cross-sector exercises are better able to prepare for disasters, anticipate impacts, and leverage partnerships and relationships to communicate during disasters.
- Clear Value Proposition: Resilient regions find clear value in investing in resilient infrastructure designs, processes, and practices. They align resilience benefits with other operational and societal benefits, successfully making the case for investment.
- Intelligent Infrastructure and Innovation: Long-term investment in new architectural designs, next-generation technologies, and innovative uses of emerging tools and capabilities enable regions to become more resilient to different and more frequent disasters.
- Resilience Measurement and Risk Management: Resilient regions map their interdependencies, identify vulnerabilities, and develop collaborative risk management plans to manage risks in a holistic way. State-of-the-art risk data, models, and measurement tools help regions examine their distinctive priorities and opportunities for strengthening resilience.