Four federal agencies have joined with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to sponsor a new independent panel devoted to reducing barriers to community resilience—the capacity to prepare for anticipated hazards, adapt to changing conditions, and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions.
Organized by NIST, the Community Resilience Panel for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems was launched on Nov. 9, 2015, with an initial membership of 292 volunteers, ranging from community and emergency planners to utility managers and insurance industry representatives. In addition to NIST, federal co-sponsors are the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Economic Resilience, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and two organizations in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS): the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection.
Panel tasks include identifying gaps in policies, standards and codes that impede community resilience, and developing consistent definitions and metrics that enable communication and cooperation across sectors. The panel also will work on raising awareness of "cascading effects" that result from interacting failures among infrastructure systems, such as when the loss of power interrupts water service.
Jay Raskin, a Portland, Ore., architect and vice chair of the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, will serve as chair of the panel. Jesse Keenan, director of Columbia University's Center for Urban Real Estate, has agreed to serve as vice chair. Appointed chairs and vice chairs of eight standing committees come from local governments, universities, trade associations and other not-for-profit organizations.
"This panel can play an integral role in building a nation of resilient communities," NIST Director Willie May, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, told the 200 panel members who participated in the inaugural meeting.
NIST initiated creation of the new panel to enable collaborative efforts needed to provide practical support and guidance to communities as they plan and carry out efforts to improve resilience, which may span decades.
The panel also will inform updates of NIST's Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems, which the agency released in late October 2015. The planning guide lays out a process that communities can follow as they address structural, social and economic dimensions of resilience. It is intended to be a self-help tool for communities of any size and a complement to other efforts promoting proactive disaster risk management, such as the FEMA-supported disaster mitigation projects and HUD's National Disaster Resilience Competition.
New panel members are welcome. To join and to learn more, go to the panel web site.