13 October 2006

A Renewed Sense of Courage: Readiness, Response, Recovery...

Upon finishing the last 3 days at The All Hazards Forum and attending the Regional Critical Infrastructure Interdependencies Workshop, we have some new insight. There is a major mind set shift from protection to resilience.

The state and local governments are still pressed to do more with less and to continue to keep such a vigilant force emotionally engaged. There is still frustration with the lack of public-private coordination, yet is is improving one step at a time. Most of our focus was on the following sessions:

> Data Sharing Initiatives in the Mid-Atlantic Region

> A Balanced Critical Infrastructure Strategy: Protection, Resilience and Private Sector Outreach.

> Regional Fusion Centers and Their Role in Preparedness

> Improving Asset Data Collection

> Continuity of Operations Planning: What are Private Businesses Doing to Prepare?

> The Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council of Maryland Training Workshop

> Combating Terrorism: Actions Needed to Improve our Domestic Ports


The focus on Critical Infrastructure resilience programs centers upon these four objectives:

1. Prevention Planning

2. Impact of Loss Analysis (Economic/Local)

3. Cycle Time to Recovery

4. Understanding Interdependencies


The diverse set of stakeholders who own and operate these assets were in attendance and opening new doors of trust and cooperation. Yet the private sector is still timid to reveal it's greatest vulnerabilities and share in the risk with the public domain to work on mitigating or reducing this exposure. One only has to look no further than BP and their deteriorating pipeline in Alaska or a consistent breakdown of our power grids to know that a simple lack of maintenance is sometimes the only culprit, not a natural or man-made disaster.

So predicting the rate of failure or loss on future networks, pipelines, bridges, tunnels and rails could be as simple as the rate of reinvestment in repair, up keep and preventive maintenance. Yet that is not our greatest fear. Remaining vigilant requires a more thorough understanding of threat and the myriad of tools being utilized by criminals and nation states to attack us. Once you understand this, you realize that your greatest fear is, the unknown. The low probability, high consequence event. That is what keeps all of us awake at night and what keeps us getting up in the morning to do it all over again. We are all searching, detecting and monitoring in hope that we are not too late once more.

And maybe even more important than this, is the hope that when that day, hour or minute does arrive, that we have the courage to respond, recover and revive ourselves even faster than the last incident. To be better. And more resilient than we ever have been before.

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