2014 CIS: A Look Back

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From a user perspective, normally our infrastructure works perfectly fine.

But as Ernie Edgar, Atkins, and Chair of TISP, explained in his State of Our Infrastructure Address at the 2014 Critical Infrastructure Symposium, held April 7-8, at the Cheyenne Mountain Conference Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., there’s much more to the story.

“As we all know too well,” Edgar said, “older systems, deferred maintenance, episodic system expansions and more have made our infrastructure systems more difficult and expensive to maintain even on the best of days. On those horrifying days when a natural or man-made disaster occurs our infrastructure is at great risk of failure. And because our infrastructure systems not only tie into, but depend on, each other, the failure of one infrastructure system can cascade into the failures of others.”

That reality—that worst-case scenario—is why individuals and organizations at the local, state, regional and national levels must continue to research, study, and share lessons learned and communicate new ideas for improving resilience and the state of our critical infrastructure. It’s why events such as the CIS are crucial to build awareness and engagement on these topics.

This year’s CIS focused on teaching moments—answering the question “What are we going to do about it?”

DSC_0016The 2014 CIS was hosted by SAME and TISP and attracted more than 200 attendees to the mountains of Colorado. Now in its fifth year, the CIS is an opportunity to highlight essential functions of resilient infrastructure systems and their importance to our society’s safety, security, quality of life, prosperity and progress. Transitioning the focus of the event from strategic resilience to operational resilience, this year’s Symposium was themed “Disasters are Personal. Resilience is Regional. Partnerships are Strategic.”

This year’s CIS could not have been a success without the support of USNORTHCOM, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Colorado Emergency Preparedness Partnership, Colorado Technical University, Coalition for the Upper South Platte, and the Western Cyber Exchange. The Symposium’s agenda, which focused on operational functions within the western states, clearly struck an audience, as noticed in increased attendance from federal, state and local governmental agencies eager to learn how infrastructure resilience can be implemented within their jurisdictions.

DSC_0022Case Studies and Training Courses

Discussions during training sessions focused on answers through examples of “do’s and don’ts” in structural design, operations and management for incorporating resilience into our infrastructure. Among the presentations, David Vaughn of Fluor addressed the collaboration to deliver the Oregon Bridge program; Maj. Bryan Cooper, USAF, and Air Force Cadet Jonathan Reasoner presented information on electric microgrids at military installations; Alan George of ILC Dover discussed New York City’s MTA flood mitigation applications; and Julia Philips and Frederic Petit of Argonne National Laboratory trained attendees on techniques used to quantify and communicate elements of infrastructure resilience from both a single asset and a system level as applied in decision analysis. Attendees were presented a rich menu of critical infrastructure and resilience sessions at which they were able to earn PDHs.

The 2014 CIS also looked at why collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential to improve resilience. TISP invited eight regional public-private partnerships (PPPs) from across the country to talk about their successes and challenges, discuss professional competencies and requisite knowledge, and meet with engineers and planners. The regional PPPs participated in the Symposium workshop, a few sessions as well as the Breakfast Plenary. Since disasters are personal and resilience is regional, it takes companies, state and local agencies and not-for-profits (such as SAME Posts) to come together to withstand the consequences of disasters.

During the Symposium, attendees also had the opportunity to tour Waldo Canyon, site of the devastating 2012 wildfires. Click here for photos from the tour.

Keynotes and Award Winners

This year’s Keynote Speakers were top notch. Assistant Secretary of Infrastructure Protection, Caitlin Durkovich, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, became the third assistant secretary of infrastructure protection to address CIS attendees. She highlighted her office’s support of building critical infrastructure security and resilience through public private partnerships. She also thanked TISP for supporting the advancement of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP).

DSC_0066During the awards presentation, TISP recognized Bob Kolasky, in the Office of Infrastructure Protection, for his supervision of the revision of NIPP in reinforcing the existing national public and private sector coordination council structure among the 16 critical infrastructure sectors. The revision increased the responsibilities of national-level councils to jointly issue multi-year priorities based on multiple information sources—including regional risk assessments and results of state and regional Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessments. Kolasky’s foresight has inspired national, state and regional partnerships for the integration of cyber and physical security efforts, closer alignment to national preparedness efforts, and integration of information-sharing as an essential component of the risk management framework. Kolasky was named the public sector recipient of the 2013 TISP Award for Distinguished Leadership in Critical Infrastructure Resilience.

TISP also recognized several members of the NIPP revision team as recipients of the 2013 Outstanding Volunteer Service Award: Dennis Schrader, Douglas Depeppe, Paula Scalingi, Kerry Thomas, John Paczkowski, Edward Thomas and Jerry Brashear.

DSC_0109CIS concluded with a keynote address from Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, USAF (Ret.), former STRATCOM Commander. Gen. Chilton connected his experiences as a mechanical engineer and military commander with emergency preparedness and infrastructure resilience professions. He also spoke on how we have personal responsibilities at home to increasing regional resilience, through his stories of how his home was tested by the 2012 Waldo Canyon fires. His home survived the fires only because he took the appropriate measures recommended by the fire chief. Lastly, Gen. Chilton recounted his NASA astronaut experiences on his third Space Shuttle mission. His lesson was that you need to trust the people and partners supporting you to survive.

Make your plans to attend next year’s CIS as it returns to the East Coast, April 2015! For more, visit www.tisp.org.

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