National Infrastructure Advisory Council: Strengthening Regional Resilience - Final Report and Recommendations

The National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) resilience research examined the characteristics of a resilient region, increasing climate risks and infrastructure interdependencies, and how resiliency can be built into critical infrastructure sectors. The study focuses on the resilience of “lifeline sectors” (energy, communications, water, and transportation) within regions that have complex multi-state, multi-jurisdictional, and cross-sector interdependencies - and which would have large national impacts if they were to fail. The report describes best practices in these sectors, process improvements, and the federal role across regions and sectors. The NIAC also provides recommend steps the federal government should take to help regions become more resilient.

The Council determined eight characteristics from effective regional resilience planning -  where public and private stakeholders can focus their efforts and resources to improve regional resilience:

  1. Strategic Intent and Unity of Effort - strategic guidance, leadership, and organization to quickly align diverse partners toward common objectives
  2. Partnerships and Executive Engagement - public, private, cross-sector
  3. Elevated Priority of Lifeline Functions - supported by strong relationships among public emergency managers and lifeline infrastructure owners and operators.
  4. Healthy and Active Community Resources - citizens, community groups, and local businesses resist victimization and instead actively contribute to public health and safety and service restoration
  5. Exercised Coordination and Information Sharing - cross-sector exercises to communicate and coordinate during disaster response
  6. Clear Value Proposition - a clear, shared value proposition creates opportunities for creative financing and joint investment
  7. Intelligent Infrastructure and Innovation - long-term investment in new architecture designs, next-generation technologies, and innovative uses of emerging tools and capabilities such as social media
  8. Resilience Measurement and Risk Management - effectively bring together diverse, cross-sector partners to map interdependencies, identify vulnerabilities, and develop collaborative risk management plans that look holistically at regional risks, not in silos at sector or business vulnerabilities

A Superstorm Sandy Case Study was conducted as part of this research, and is detailed in Chapter 2. The NIAC engaged infrastructure owners and operators, and state and local government emergency managers to collect and analyze extensive data on the storm’s impacts, lessons learned, and implications for regional resilience. Chapter 2 contains a distillation of key lessons learned that informed the NIAC’s findings and recommendations for this report. Detailed sector specific and cross-sector findings are included in Appendix D.

The Council recommends six Federal actions to improve regional resilience which are described further in Chapter 5. The actions have specific steps and strategies outlined, and collectively, these recommendations form what the NIAC finds to be a comprehensive strategy for the government to improve regional resilience.

For example, they recommend that the President direct the heads of related federal agencies to form partnerships with senior executives from the lifeline sectors, using a process modeled after the government’s successful executive engagement with the electricity sector. Also, the Secretary of Homeland Security should launch a cross-agency team to develop solutions to site access, waiver, and permit barriers during disaster response, and begin implementing solutions within one year.


Publication Date: November 21, 2013

Related Organizations:

  • National Infrastructure Advisory Council


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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