Metrics of Community Resilience: Estimating the social burden of attaining critical services following power disruptions

Authors: Sara Peterson*, University at Buffalo, Susan Clark, University at Buffalo
Topics: Energy, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Population Geography
Keywords: resilience, communities, energy
Session Type: Paper
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Modern infrastructure systems depend on a functional power grid. Consequently, the U.S. federal government has deemed the energy sector ‘uniquely important’ to the overall resilience of all infrastructure systems. If the value of the nation’s infrastructure systems is derived from their ability to “provide the essential services that underpin American society”, then the value of infrastructure resilience—defined as “the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions”— can similarly be understood through a community-focused lens. However, despite practical connections between developing power grid resilience and community resilience, there is a disconnect between initiatives to plan for these two objectives. Efforts to plan for grid resilience often focus on the supply of energy, considering energy resilience in terms of the frequency and duration of a power outage. In contrast, efforts to plan for community resilience often focus on the human outcomes of energy supply, considering energy resilience through health and wellbeing indicators such as access to food, water, sanitation, and healthcare. This research seeks to bridge the gap between these two perspectives and facilitate efforts to plan and regulate for community-focused grid resilience. Drawing upon theories of human development, this research explicitly draws the link between infrastructure systems, services, and the ultimate human benefits they provide through the development of a “social burden” metric to quantify the burden placed upon community members to attain all their infrastructure service needs following a disaster.

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