Bolstering Critical Infrastructure Resilience After Superstorm Sandy copy

Superstorm Sandy left in its wake an estimated $68 billion of damages and millions of disrupted lives. The energy, transport, communications, water, and health sectors for the New York/New Jersey metro-region were all seriously compromised. Once again, Americans received a wake-up call about the growing fragility of the nation’s critical lifeline infrastructures in the face of human-induced and naturally-occurring disasters.Bolstering regional capacity to better withstand, more nimbly recover from, and adapt to disruptive events is a national imperative we neglect at our peril.

The lessons from Superstorm Sandy have implications for major urban areas around the U.S. and should inform both much needed changes to the nation’s approach to managing the risk to infrastructure associated with major disasters and investment in resilience as a central element of post-storm restoration efforts.

To gather, analyze and leverage Sandy’s lessons, the Center for Resilience Studies at Northeastern University’s George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security, with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, brought experts and practitioners from coastal urban communities around the country to the New York area to meet with their counterparts who were on the frontlines of responding to and recovering from Superstorm Sandy.

Four workshops, co-organized with Columbia University, New York University, the Stevens Institute of Technology, and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania,
resulted in urgent recommendations to overcome the barriers to creating infrastructure resilience, including:

  • Tapping new modeling, simulation, and visualization tools that can strengthen situational awareness of the operations and interconnectedness of multiple infrastructure sectors;

    An aerial view of the post-Superstorm Sandy blackout (Source: Iwan Baan, New York Magazine)
    An aerial view of the post-Superstorm Sandy blackout
    (Source: Iwan Baan, New York Magazine)
  • Incorporating new resilience-related findings from network science and multiple engineering fields into design codes and standards;
  • Strengthening the federal capacity to operate collaboratively at the regional level and funding and empowering non-profit entities to engage stakeholders in the public and private sectors; and
  • Devising new measures for resilience and providing economic rewards for their widespread adoption.

The full report, Bolstering Critical Infrastructure Resilience After Superstorm Sandy: Lessons for New York and the Nation, can be accessed here: http://www.northeastern.edu/resilience/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Bolstering-Critical-Infrastructure-Resilience-After-Superstorm-Sandy.pdf.