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Community Resilience Research

NIST manages a multi-faceted program, assisting communities and stakeholders on issues related to buildings and the interdependencies of physical infrastructure systems. The Community Resilience Program, part of NIST's broader resilience work, complements efforts by others in the public and private sectors. The Community Resilience Group focuses on 3 components with an overall goal of enhancing all aspects of community resilience through science based methodologies, tools and guidance. The research components of the Community Resilience Program consists of the following:

  • The first component is developing systems methods and models that address the interdependencies between buildings and infrastructure and the social systems that they support, allow input of community performance goals, and use community planning or event-based data for validation and sensitivity studies. The research is supported by a Community Resilience Center of Excellence, led by Colorado State University. NIST is collaborating with the CoE to establish architecture for the community-resilience model and identify respective areas of research to benefit from the expertise available within the CoE team and at NIST. Specific technical areas where NIST has expertise that can complement the CoE team are: building performance, social science, risk and hazard communication, specific hazards such as earthquake, windstorm and coastal inundation, and Wildland-urban interface fire. 
  • The second component of the research involves development of a science-based methodology for measuring and assessing resilience at the community scale. The research includes the identification of performance goals for the built environment based on the social systems and needs in the community, and development of metrics to assess resilience at the community scale that account for the individual elements (buildings and infrastructure) and their interdependencies. The methodology will be science-based, user-friendly, and applicable to communities of varying sizes without requiring extensive technical resources to implement. 

  • The third component of the research involves the development of an economics based methodology to support community decision-making for resilience planning and implementation. The decision support tool will account for social needs before, during, and after a disruptive event, performance goals for buildings and infrastructure, and will provide for evaluation of options to enhance community resilience. 

More information on the current Community Resilience research projects can be found through the links below: 

Development of a Community Resilience Planning Guide, Implementation Guidelines, and Pilot Implementation

Recognizing the role that buildings and infrastructure systems play in supporting essential community functions, this project focuses on the role that buildings and infrastructure play in assuring the resilience of communities by developing the Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems (Guide) and associated Community Resilience Implementation Guidelines.  The Guide provides a six-step process to guide communities in establishing performance goals for buildings and infrastructure systems, considering the social systems present and the dependencies that exist among the physical and social systems in the community. The Implementation Guidelines focus on buildings and infrastructure systems and will assist communities in determining steps that can be taken to improve the performance of their built environment to meet their resilience objectives. The Implementation Guidelines will be based on codes, standards, and best practices.  The goal of this project is to develop guidance to help communities develop resilience plans and to assist them in implementing those plans as well as collect data and information from initial users of the guidance to inform future versions of the Guide and Implementation Guildelines.

Establishment and Operations of the Community Resilience Panel Project

The concept of community resilience is relatively new. It is a complex, multi-dimensional problem that relies on the intersection of social science, engineering, economics, and other disciplines to improve the way communities prepare for, resist, respond to, and recover from disruptive events, whether those events are due to natural, human-caused or technological hazards. This project focuses establishing and operating  a Community Resilience Panel as a forum for a broad range of stakeholders to consider technical issues, recommendations for needed guidance, new reference materials, or resilience standards for standard development organizations or other bodies to consider. The Panel will also inform the development of future versions of the Guide and the Implementation Guidelines.

Disaster and Failure Studies Project

Extreme events test buildings and infrastructure in ways and on a scale that cannot be easily replicated in a laboratory – buildings and infrastructure are built without being tested at full scale. The study of disaster and failure events is essential to improving the performance of buildings and infrastructure, the safety of building occupants, and the associated evacuation and emergency response procedures. The Disaster and Failure Studies Project will provide leadership, coordination, and management for (1) the conduct of disaster and failure studies, including the development and maintenance of an archival data repository, (2) promoting the implementation of recommendations from disaster and failure studies, and (3) carrying out the statutory responsibilities assigned by the National Construction Safety Team Act.

Development of a First-Generation Community-Resilience Model  

Communities are places, designated by geographical boundaries, that function under the jurisdiction of a governance structure, such as a town, city, or county. All communities have social institutions to meet the needs of individuals and households, including family, economic, government, health, education, community service, religious, cultural, and media organizations. These social institutions rely on the built environment in many ways to function. In order for a community to be resilient and for social institutions to continue to meet the needs of its members, buildings and infrastructure systems must return to a normal level of functionality within a reasonable period of time following a disruptive event. The goal of this project is to develop systems-based modeling representations and methods for assessing community resilience of the built environment that include dependencies between buildings and infrastructure systems and the social and economic systems that they support.

Development of a First-Generation Community Resilience Assessment Methodology Project

Communities are encouraged to consider and plan for resilience yet they are provided with little guidance or tools at their disposal. In support of communities  NIST has released the Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems to help communities plan and implement prioritized measures for the built environment that can strengthen their resilience to hazard events. The next step is to provide communities with the tools necessary to measure their resilience. This research project will develop a first-generation methodology for the assessment of resilience at the community scale, based on community functions, supported by buildings and infrastructure systems, and time for those functions to recover following disruption. The goal of this research is to develop a simplified, science-based community resilience assessment methodology that can be applied to communities of any size.

Developing Cost-Effective Resource Allocation Strategies to Reduce the Economic Burden of Disasters  

Advancements in measurement science are needed to estimate the 'economic burden' of natural and man-made disasters. Currently, disaster-related loss (damage) estimates are available, although they tend to focus on direct loss only, and fail to consider down-stream, indirect effects, such as business interruption, which can be large and have a significant effect on the sustainability of a local or regional economy. The objective of this project is to develop a first-generation decision support tool to facilitate cost-effective resource allocations that minimize the total economic burden of disasters on communities, and advance research to inform the decision-making process.

Created April 17, 2017, Updated April 20, 2017