Infrastructure – some news and resources

Since I now know that many of the readers are working on mitigation and recovery planning efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I will try to supply some new information resources on components of the recovery support functions (housing, economic, infrastructure etc.).

Today I have two new items related to Infrastructure, both gleaned from Fierce Homeland Security blog:

(1)  Market pressures weigh against private sector critical infrastructure resilience. This is a formal journal article, available in full text for a fee from But some of you may need to dig into the details. Some details from the article:

Private sector operators of critical infrastructure are not in fact naturally motivated toward resilience, say two academics in a paper noting systemic difficulties with public-private collaboration on critical infrastructure protection.

The paper, by Nathan Busch of the Christopher Newport University and Austen Givens of Utica College and published in the International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection, says arguments that resilience investments are cost-effective because they remove the possibility of a complete shutdown in the event of a large disaster overlook dynamics of the marketplace.
While it might be reasonable to think that a business would want to invest in resilience to keep itself going amid wider disruptions, “a business can only fully understand the need to spend money on emergency preparedness measures when it is in the midst of an emergency.”

(2)  GAO calls for independent review of DHS Infrastructure Assessment

The Homeland Security Department will commission an independent review of how it identifies and prioritizes critical infrastructure under its National Infrastructure Protection Plan, following recommendations in a new Government Accountability Office report.

Congress asked GAO to review DHS management of the National Critical Infrastructure Prioritization Program following Hurricane Sandy, which prompted questions about changes DHS made in 2009 in creating and compiling the list. The new criteria were entirely consequence-based, assessing the effect an adverse event would have on public health and safety, the economy, government missions and public psychology.

NOTE: This posting has some technical difficulties with fonts and format that I cannot resolve. Sorry for the messy look.

2 thoughts on “Infrastructure – some news and resources

  1. Re the first item – this is a classic case of bounded rationality, or, the one who owns the solution doesn’t own the problem. Like Tragedies of the Commons, these types of problems aren’t very amenable to market solutions because the profit motive for the infrastructure owner for not doing something is outweighed by the cost of actually doing something.

    Two possible solutions, both probably requiring government intervention.
    1. Use the Big Stick to require the infrastructure operator to take resilience actions.
    2. Change the market so that there are real incentives for the infrastructure operator.

    Too often, the kneejerk reaction is the first. But the second is actually less costly and probably more effective. Much less need for enforcement mechanisms and other regulatory apparata.

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