To develop the technical basis for tools to assess resilience and enable science-based investment decisions for communities of all sizes. To form a Community Resilience Panel, develop a Community Resilience Planning Guide and associated Implementation Guidelines to achieve community resilience.
What is the problem?
Despite significant progress in science and technology related to disaster-mitigation, natural, technological, and human-caused disasters in the United States result in significant direct and indirect costs in terms of lives lost, disruption of commerce and financial networks, properties destroyed, and the cost of mobilizing emergency response personnel and equipment. Natural hazards are a continuing and significant threat to U.S. communities. Major catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina (2005) and future earthquakes like the ones that struck Tohoku and Kobe, Japan in 2011 and 1995, respectively, can cause mega-losses ($80B-$300B) in a single event. Human activities that are accidental, criminal, or terrorist can also lead to disastrous losses. The risk across large, disaster-prone regions of the nation is substantially greater now than ever before due to the combined effects of urban development and population growth. In addition, much of the nation's physical infrastructure is located in parts of the country that are susceptible to natural hazards (e.g., along coastlines, in the wildland-urban interface, and in earthquake-prone regions) and significant parts of this infrastructure is aging, diminishing its capacity to resist hazards.
Community resilience, the ability to withstand the impacts of natural, technological, or human-caused hazards and recover quickly to pre-event levels of function, is at once a local and a national issue. Just as the effects of a natural hazard cascade locally through impacted infrastructure and society, they can also cascade across entire regions and even nationally. Regional and national resilience is impacted by pre-event mitigation, immediate response, and long-term recovery. As projected losses continue to rise, there is increasing recognition of the need to minimize response and recovery by proactively identifying hazards that pose threats and acting to mitigate their potential impact. Preventing hazards (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, and community-scale fires) from becoming disasters depends upon the resilience of our buildings and infrastructure. This, in turn, depends upon the capacity to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of hazards, preventing them from becoming disasters.
While tools exist to assess vulnerability of individual assets, no science-based tools exist to assess the resilience of a community, considering the dependencies among buildings and infrastructure systems as well as the dependencies with social systems. Further, no tools currently exist to assist communities with investment decisions to enhance resilience.
What is the new technical idea?
The new technical idea is to begin with an understanding the needs of the social and economic systems present in a community to determine when buildings and infrastructure systems need to be restored to function in order to support these social and economic needs. The notion of return to function requires consideration of the connections of building systems (structure, envelope, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems), connections to infrastructure (electric power, water, wastewater, communications, transportation systems), and the connections between social systems and the physical systems. Currently, buildings and infrastructure are considered independently in design and operation. Further, there is sometimes a mismatch between design objectives and public expectations. Since buildings and infrastructure are essential to the functioning of modern society, establishing performance goals for restoring buildings and infrastructure to functionality, the ability of the social systems (government, business, industry and individual citizens) to return to normalcy following a disruptive event can be improved.
To accomplish this transformation in the way buildings and infrastructure are designed, built, operated, and maintained, NIST will develop science-based tools to measure resilience at the community scale, taking into account the connections between the built environment and the social systems present in the community and economics-based tools to support decisions on actions to improve resilience. In addition, NIST will engage the diverse body of stakeholders to develop guidance on development of resilience plans, implementation guidance, and identify and address gaps in standards, codes, and practice to enhance community resilience.
What is the research plan?
There are two major components to the NIST Community Resilience program. The first is establishment of a public-private partnership, Community Resilience Panel, involving a broad spectrum of stakeholders (e.g., planners, designers, and contractors; facility owners, managers and users; local, state, and federal government officials; standards and model code development organizations; insurers and re-insurers; industry and professional organizations; disaster response and recovery organizations; and academic experts), to inform development of a Community Resilience Planning Guide and associated Implementation Guidelines. The Community Resilience Planning Guide:
- Articulates a methodology for developing performance goals and metrics for buildings and infrastructure systems, based on the social functions the physical systems support, to enhance community resilience,
- identifies existing standards, codes, guidelines, and tools that can be implemented to enhance resilience, and
- identifies gaps in current standards, codes, and tools, that if successfully addressed can lead to enhanced resilience. The Implementation Guideline is intended to serve as a resource document capturing the current and proposed best practices for:
- establishing performance goals for buildings and systems and infrastructure systems for community resilience;
- evaluating the resilience of buildings and infrastructure systems (ability to perform at the goal level);
- innovative solutions to achieve performance targets for buildings and infrastructure systems consistent with community level performance expectations;
- design and construction methods to achieve resilience;
- the increased risks from multiple hazards that many communities face;
- the preparedness of a community's emergency response and evacuation systems;
- emergency preparedness of residents and workers;
- addressing evolving hazard trends in the design of new buildings and infrastructure systems or the upgrade of existing buildings and infrastructure systems; and,
- identify the gaps, issues, and priorities for resilience standards development and harmonization.
The research component of the program consists of three thrusts. 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 can 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 that of 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 CoE is developing data architecture and management schemes to facilitate the collection and analysis of data across the resilience spectrum. Pilot studies, conducted by the CoE will support the validation of the community-resilience models and database architectures. 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:
- 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.