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Development and Implementation of the Community Resilience Planning Guides


Community resilience 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 on the role that buildings and infrastructure systems play in assuring the resilience of communities by considering how physical systems support social and economic functions, including their recovery after a disruptive hazard event. The Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems (Guide) provides a 6-step methodology for improving and implementing resilience plans. Guide Briefs will supplement the Guide by providing ‘how-to’ guidance and identifying resources. Communities that implement the Guide will be monitored to gather data and information on its use and to inform future versions


Objective - To develop guidance documents (Community Resilience Planning  Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems and supporting Guide Briefs) to improve community resilience and to collect data from communities implementing the guidance documents to inform future versions.

What is the new technical idea? Resilience is the “the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and to withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions”. Most communities prepare for disruptive hazard events through mitigation measures and emergency response for life safety. However, many communities do not plan for recovery from significant disruptions, and may have long recovery times and loss of businesses and population as a result. Community functions, such as business, healthcare, education, and governance, depend on buildings and infrastructure systems. Delayed recovery of physical systems after a hazard event also delays the recovery of community functions.

The Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems provides communities with a 6-step process to develop a resilience plan that prioritizes alternative measures to improve resilience, with a focus on recovery of vital services in a timely manner and potentially to ‘build back better’. A key concept is that the built environment supports social and economic functions, therefore, social and economic functions should be considered when establishing performance goals for buildings and infrastructure systems. The Guide provides a practical, flexible methodology to set priorities and allocate resources to reduce risks by improving community resilience.

The Planning Guide will be updated as new information becomes available or gaps are identified. This information will be collected through interaction with communities using the Guide, as well as the Community Resilience Panel and the Disaster Resilience Fellows.

As a companion to the Planning Guide, a series of topical Guide Briefs will be developed. The Guide Briefs will assist communities in implementing the 6-step process by providing more detailed guidance and links to other resources or examples.

What is the research plan?

Community Resilience Planning Guidance. Community resilience planning guidance documents will be developed to support improved resilience planning methods, tools, and metrics. The guidance documents will be developed with input and feedback from stakeholders during the development process. A variety of mechanisms will be used to interact with stakeholders, such as national workshops, Community Resilience Panel meetings, conference presentations, and webinars.

The NIST Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems (Planning Guide) provides a practical and flexible 6-step approach to help communities improve their resilience by setting priorities and allocating resources to manage risks for their prevailing hazards. The first version of the Planning Guide was released on October 29, 2015, and may be updated periodically as new best practices and research results become available and as communities gain experience using the Guide and recommend improvements. Using the Planning Guide, communities will be able to integrate resilience plans into their economic development, zoning, mitigation, and other local planning activities that impact buildings, public utilities and other infrastructure systems.

The Planning Guide will be supplemented by a series of Guide Briefs that provide more detailed information on implementing the 6-steps of the Planning Guide, including references to existing tools and examples or case studies of resilience planning decisions about the built environment, social systems, and dependencies between systems. The first set of Guide Briefs will be released September 2016.

Guide Use by Communities. Beginning in FY16, NIST will work with communities that use the NIST community resilience guidance documents to identify opportunities to improve or develop new guidance and tools, and develop success stories that would provide guidance to other communities. Success stories for early adopters can illustrate how the resilience guidance can be implemented, identify strengths and weaknesses in the process, and its benefits.

NIST will develop training videos on the use of the Planning Guide and community resilience planning. NIST will establish an online user forum to allow communities to network and exchange information on their experiences using the Planning Guide.

Community Resilience Panel. The Community Resilience Panel is a neutral convening body supported by NIST that includes a broad spectrum of stakeholders (e.g., planners, designers, owners and operators; local, state, and federal governments; standards and model code development organizations; insurers and re-insurers; industry and professional organizations; disaster response and recovery organizations; and academic experts). The mission of the Panel is to reduce barriers to achieving community resilience by promoting collaboration among stakeholders to strengthen the resilience of buildings, infrastructure, and social systems upon which communities rely. The Panel considers the adequacy of standards, guidelines, best practices and other tools based on the NIST Guide as an organizing construct. The Panel will recommend, develop, and work with other organizations and agencies to make improvements in community resilience. These products will inform NIST research as they are developed. Over time, as the Panel matures and develops useful products and support for community resilience, it is anticipated that the Panel may become an independent entity.

Created May 11, 2016, Updated May 4, 2021