There is growing interest in the subject of resilience on the part of President Obama’s Administration, as well as lively discussion regarding this issue in academic, business, and governmental circles. This article offers an operational framework that can prove useful to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and stakeholders at all levels, both public and private, as a basis for incorporating resilience into our infrastructure and society in order to make the nation safer.
Three interrelated, mutually reinforcing objectives or end-states shape the approach to resilience: resistance, absorption, and restoration. If these objectives are realized as part of applying practical programs to critical systems and key functions, then these systems and functions will reflect resilience features appropriate to their individual needs.
Resilience needs to be planned in advance—before systems are damaged and undesired consequences occur. Such planning can be challenging, given the different interpretations currently attached to “resilience,” and the complexity inherent in the concept. Planners need to account for the fact that resilience is both broad and deep. It encompasses “hard” systems (such as infrastructure and assets) as well as “soft” systems (such as communities and individuals).
A visually direct technique for assisting resilience planners is to establish a “resilience profile” for key functions within critical systems. Such a profile is delimited by three design parameters: function, latency limit, and minimum performance boundary. Investment strategies can be developed using these profiles to identify cost-effective ways and means to incorporate resilience capabilities across the homeland security mission spectrum for the system in question. Solutions need to be practiced and tested.
Operationalizing the resilience framework presented in this article will not be easy. The potential payoff, however, in terms of the enhanced economic, individual, and societal security that such resilience provides can be immense.
See An Operational Framework for Resilience, by Jerome H. Kahan, Andrew C. Allen and Justin K. George, Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute (HSsaI) from Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (free registration required).