It is no secret that natural disasters have been increasing in frequency and intensity over the past few years. It is also expected that these disasters will escalate over time. Risk assessment studies and global datasets have indicated that disaster events are projected to intensify in magnitude, duration and frequency across the globe. Whenever a disaster such as a flood, landslide, earthquake or wildfire occurs, it almost invariably disrupts mobility and transport of people, goods and services.
The transport sector with its road, rail, air and sea network forms a vital part of society’s daily economic and social activity. A network of interdependent systems that function collaboratively and synergistically to address the nation’s growth trajectory and associated priorities, this large-scale critical infrastructure spans the country’s landscape connecting practically all forms of the built environment. It is responsible for a continuous flow of essential goods and services and touches aspects of jobs, health, commerce, education, culture and more.
Risk Assessment and Resilience Building
And yet, this network is highly susceptible to geo-hazard risks, hydro-meteorological threats, extreme weather events and climate change impacts. Any interruption to this network in our interconnected world can have immediate and far-reaching consequences on society and on the local economy. Disasters also threaten the long-term investments in transportation infrastructure made by the national, state and local governments as well as the private sector.
In such a scenario, it is imperative for governments to assess the vulnerability of transportation systems, identify ways to improve survivability, and maintain continuity of services. Building resilience in infrastructure whether by upgrading existing systems or designing new ones is critical.
The first step towards this would be a comprehensive study of the infrastructure. A ‘risk and resilience’ assessment of a country’s transport infrastructure offers an overview of the risks while also providing opportunities to resolve them.
The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) is uniquely poised to present a holistic view of entire infrastructure ‘systems’ rather than just the ‘assets.’ These systems have national, regional, and global dimensions and CDRI can capacitate collaborations to identify the hotspots in global infrastructure systems that may have cascading impacts.
CDRI’s assessment will critically evaluate the primary infrastructure exposure to risk factors, develop and adopt a suitable framework for select assets, and conduct a nationwide vulnerability assessment through a systemic/structured process. CDRI will also establish a core technical advisory committee from member countries and draw on subject experts to contribute and provide overall guidance.
- A national-level resilience assessment of infrastructure systems will enable governments to:
- Visualize and measure disaster and climate risks.
- Assess the social and economic cost of infrastructure failure, asset loss and service interruption.
- Identify the most cost-effective investments to strengthen resilience.
- Agree to resilience targets.
CDRI’s member countries will have access to:
- A comprehensive framework that guides the method for undertaking risk and resilience assessment, designing new transportation systems or upgrading existing ones.
- Outline the process to undertake assessment of infrastructure vulnerabilities, and decision-making priorities, arriving at adaptation and resilience options
- A decision support platform that aids them in development planning, assets management, performance monitoring, operations and maintenance and emergency management.
- CDRI believes that its assessment report will:
- Make decision makers in the public and private sector more aware of the relevant issues in risk management of critical infrastructure.
- Broaden their perspective from technical to socio-economic factors (or vice versa) and from single systems to a ’system of systems’ point of view.
- Motivate further assessment of all national, sub-national and local assets.
- Prioritize investments to strengthen critical infrastructure systems.
- When adaptation and resilience measures are integrated into large- scale infrastructure development projects and processes, a safer and more durable transport system is created, leading to a country that is economically and socially secure.