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Community Disaster Resilience

Recent events, such as the Joplin Tornado, earthquakes in Chile and Christchurch, and Superstorm Sandy, have highlighted a need for current practice to consider the functionality and interdependencies of buildings and infrastructure systems and the role they play in restoring the fabric of the community following a hazard event.

What is NIST doing in resilience?

torreTo address this problem,NIST manages a multi-faceted program to assist communities and the variety of stakeholders whose work and interests relate to the buildings and physical infrastructure systems of those communities. The NIST community resilience program – part of a broader disaster resilience effort by the agency – complements disaster resilience efforts by Federal, state and local governments as well as by the private sector, including non-profit organizations. 



 Credit: NIST

NIST's Disaster Resilience program includes the following areas:

  • Community Disaster Resilience Framework: Working closely with the private and public sectors, NIST is developing this Framework to provide a methodology to help community leaders to establish their overall performance goals based on a community's social needs and physical assets; identify gaps in performance that must be addressed in order to bolster community resilience; and develop a prioritized action plan.
  • Disaster Resilience Standards Panel (DSRP): The Disaster Resilient Standards Panel (DRSP) will be a membership-based organization that enhances and builds upon the Community Disaster Resilience Framework structure and develops Model Resilience Guidelines for communities. NIST has been developing the voluntary Framework in collaboration with local governments, the private sector, and the public. The President's Climate Action Plan of June 2013* states that NIST will convene a panel to work on the Framework and to provide guidelines for consistently safe buildings and infrastructure. The panel will not develop standards – that is the work of voluntary standards developing organizations –but its efforts will inform the development and lay the foundation for standards and codes produced by those organizations. The Panel's work on future versions of the Framework and on specific guidance not currently available will support communities in developing and carrying out their resilience plans.
  • Model Resilience Guidelines: These guidelines will promote best practices, methods and innovative solutions to help communities implement the Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure and develop their own disaster resilience plan for their community.
  • Disaster Resilience Fellows: To assist with developing the CDRF, NIST has engaged Disaster Resilience Fellows with specialized expertise working with communities, buildings, and physical infrastructure systems. These experts will also contribute expertise to the DRSP.
  • Disaster Resilience Workshops: Since April 2014, NIST has been convening workshops engaging a broad network of stakeholders to help develop the Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure and the DRSP, with a focus on the role that buildings and infrastructure systems play in ensuring community resilience.
  • Community Resilience Center of ExcellenceIn February 2015, NIST announced establishment of the Community Resilience Center of Excellence that is focusing on tools to support community disaster resilience, including the development of integrated, systems-based computational models to assess community infrastructure resilience and guide community-level resilience investment decisions. The center, led by Colorado State University partnering with 10 other universities, also will develop a data management infrastructure, as well as tools and best practices to improve the collection of disaster and resilience data. 

* The President's Climate Action Plan can be found at