Beyond the Storms
The text focuses on cross-governmental multi-agency collaboration because research findings suggest that significant improvements are possible by leveraging the benefits of interagency coordination, collective action, and public-private partnerships (PPPs).
Critical infrastructures are of particular concern because they are vulnerable to damage, disruption, or attack, and they play an essential role in the economic vitality of the nation.
Since the private sector owns and operates the majority of the nation’s CIKR—banking and financial institutions, commercial facilities, telecommunications networks, transportation, and energy sectors—it is essential that the public and private sectors work together to protect and sustain these systems.
The destabilizing impact of recent disasters has resulted in a reactionary posture that is not necessarily in the long-term interests of preparedness.
There is a powerful call for a shift in disaster preparedness that places a stronger focus on resiliency.
America invests barely 2 percent of its GDP in infrastructure renewal and maintenance, one of the lowest figures among the world’s industrialized nations.
Resilience , in a physical and structural sense, is “the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions, and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions.” However, the broader concept of resilience originated in the ecological and social sciences, where it is critical for survival and growth within complex systems.
The key to the implementation of any local-, state-, regional-, or national-level policies in support of critical infrastructure resilience, preparedness, or business continuity is leveraging the utility of public-private partnerships.
By way of historical background, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and assigned the new department responsibility for leading and coordinating national critical infrastructure protection (CIP).
We need a transformation in CIP and sustainment of services that integrates resilience, as an active virtue, into all services and functions; thus, we need to be moving beyond physical protection to an increased focus on flexibility, agility, and dynamic preparedness.
Beyond merely engaging other elements of the interagency in the mission of infrastructure protection, a whole-of-nation approach maximizes the potential of all private citizens and organizations to advance the preparedness process.
As highlighted by recent disasters—among them the destruction brought about by Superstorm Sandy in the fall of 2012, or the horrific school shooting that same year in Newtown, Connecticut, or incidents of domestic terrorism such as the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings—disaster management and national preparedness do not lend themselves to binary risk calculations; rather, they are part of a complex and ambiguous process that evokes the joint action of local, state, and federal actors across the public and private sectors.