Society depends on the proper functioning of essential services and systems such as food supply, water supply, energy supply, transportation, telecommunications and healthcare. These services and systems are increasingly complex and interdependent, making them susceptible to catastrophic and cascading failures under stress. Resilience is the ability of such services, systems and human communities to resist, respond to and recover from a vast range of disruptive events. Examples of initial disruptive events may be:
- Long-lasting power blackouts / failures of power distribution network
- Contamination of drinking water
- Natural disasters, e.g. hurricanes, flooding, landslides and earthquakes
The application of science, technological measures and organisational processes which ensure the ability to recover is referred to as resilience engineering.
LR has developed a general methodology for resilience engineering analysis, which has similarities to the methodology for emergency preparedness analysis (EPAs). As shown in the figure below, the first step is the identification of potentially disruptive events. The second step is to perform a consequence assessment, where direct consequences and potential cascading effects are considered. Final steps are to identify technological, operational and organisational measures to control and normalise the situation.
For more information on resilience engineering, reference is made to LR’s foresight review.