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Transportation Colloquia: Beyond Bouncing Back: Critical Transportation Infrastructure Resilience

04/30/2013, 9:00am to 12:30pm
John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
55 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
OST-R Office: 
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Multiple Speakers


Global transportation infrastructure today is confronted with significant vulnerabilities — an aging infrastructure; a growing concentration of populations at high-density coastal urban areas; increasing interdependencies among the nation's physical and cyber infrastructures; co-location of many transportation systems with large-scale and potentially hazardous production facilities; and the escalating threats of climate change. Together, they have coalesced to create significant challenges for the nation's critical infrastructure systems.

A framework for enhancing critical transportation infrastructure resiliency could potentially serve as a roadmap for addressing some of these pressing global challenges. Recently, the concept of resiliency, however, has become a buzzword used to characterize a system that recovers rapidly from a disruption in order to resume normal functions. But resilience is not just bouncing back.

Defining resilience

Resiliency is an overarching concept characterizing a complex transportation system that is able to better withstand disruptions. The transportation system includes physical, technical, social and institutional elements that are all critical to resilience. A resiliency framework should not be viewed as a mechanism for preserving the status-quo and returning the system to pre-disaster condition. What is envisioned is a framework that enables us to strategically harness capabilities and know-how to build or rebuild a transportation system that is much less vulnerable to disruption and better than the current transportation system. A resilient transportation system has design-level robustness so that it can withstand severe blows; it is adaptable so that it can respond appropriately to threats and it can mitigate the consequences of threats through response and recovery operations. These three attributes — robustness, adaptiveness, and consequence mitigation — form the foundations of a resilient transportation system.

Roundtable Highlights


Final Report: Beyond Bouncing Back

Final Report: Beyond Bouncing Back
(PDF, 829 KB)


Infrastructure Resiliency: A Risk-Based Framework

Infrastructure Resiliency: A Risk-Based Framework
(PDF, 1 MB)


Conference Package

Download Printable Conference package (PDF, 2MB), includes:

  • Speaker biographies
  • Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-21: Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience
  • Summary: National Climate Assessment Report (draft, January 2013)
  • Summary: New York State (NYS) 2100 Commission Report (2013)
  • Summary: National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan (The White House, 2013)
  • Summary: Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative (The National Academies, 2012)
  • Summary: Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change. (The National Research Council, 2010)