S. Shyam Sunder, director of the Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has agreed to serve on the New York State Ready Commission, formed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to recommend ways to ensure critical systems and services are prepared for future natural disasters and other emergencies.
The expert commission is one of three that Cuomo launched in the aftermath of recent major storms, including Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, that devastated parts of the state and revealed weaknesses in New York's transportation, energy, communications and health infrastructures.
The Ready Commission will review critical systems and services and recommend measures to prepare for future natural disasters and other emergencies. It also will advise the governor on ways to ensure:
- new, modified and existing construction is resilient;
- adequate equipment, fuel, food, water and other emergency supplies are available;
- first responders and other critical personnel can communicate efficiently and have access to adequate resources;
- reliable, real-time information is available for decision makers; and
- lines of authority are clear and officials have the authority to react rapidly to emergency situations.
Cuomo issued an Executive Order on Nov. 15, 2012, to form the Ready Commission and the two others—one focusing on responses to future weather-related disasters and the other on ways to improve the resilience and strength of the state's infrastructure in the face of natural disasters and other emergencies.
Preliminary recommendations by all three commissions are due on Jan. 3, 2013.
As director of the NIST Engineering Laboratory, Sunder manages an annual budget of $90 million, 260 employees, and about 150 guest researchers from U.S industry and universities as well as foreign laboratories. He oversees NIST's statutory responsibilities for enhancing disaster resilience by reducing the risks of fires, earthquakes, windstorms and coastal inundation on buildings, infrastructure and communities, including facility occupants/users and emergency responders. He also oversees the multiagency U.S. National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. Sunder led the federal building and fire safety investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
To read the press release announcing the launch of the commissions, go to: www.governor.ny.gov/press/11152012-Emergency-Preparedness.