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Hinman Pulse

April 11, 2013

What Time is Resilient Enough?

by Brian Katz



Right about when I was beginning to figure out what multi-hazard and all-hazards meant, Obama issues Directive 8 for the Department of Homeland Security or DHS to develop a comprehensive plan for ensuring the resilience of the United States. Since then, the DHS has been busy sponsoring on conference after conference about "resiliency" to nail down what it means and how to get it. It was not long before the hype of resilience caught up with me. I emphatically floated the idea of developing a resilience rating system to The Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP) - Engineering, Construction & Architecture Committee, which I chair. Never mind that the DHS has championed this task. I was ready for a true David beat Goliath scenario!

These were the comments Hinman's fearless leader, Eve Hinman, had to offer up after The Critical Infrastructure Symposium (TCIS) sponsored by TISP last year. This year's TCIS is just around the corner and is shaping up to include a variety of presentations about resilient design. Yours truly will be attending the April 15th-16th conference in West Point, New York along with Eve and Hinman's Technical Director, Shalva Marjanishvili to present on topics that encourage discussion of resilience in practical terms. Although in the spotlight, resilient design has been unable to coalesce from a state of lofty concepts and take the form of an implementable engineering process.

Taking a closer look at the language of resilience, it becomes apparent that it is a performance category tangled by time. Conventional definitions of resilient performance refer to a system’s ability to rapidly reestablish operational capabilities in the aftermath of a catastrophic event. However, this definition of system resilience is virtually impossible to confront as part of design. How do I engineer a building to be resilient enough to recover in 96-hours? How do I know that 96-hours is even a sufficient resilience cushion. This time-based definition provides a convenient scale by which to measure resilience post-disaster but gives little guidance as to how to anticipate system performance and implement an adequate level of resilience. The obvious alternative is to take time out of the equation!

Come join us at TCIS to continue the discussion and pave the path to implementable resilience!

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