Maintaining Critical Infrastructure Resilience to Natural Hazards During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hurricane Preparations by US Energy Companies

Published in: Journal of Infrastructure Preservation and Resilience (2020). doi: 10.1186/s43065-020-00010-1

Posted on RAND.org on August 11, 2020

by Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Ismael Arciniegas Rueda, Jonathon Monken, Jay Liu, Hong Chen

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The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to compromise the ability of critical infrastructure utilities to respond to or mitigate natural hazards like wildfires and hurricanes. This article describes the ways that an energy organization, the regional transmission operator PJM, is preparing for hurricanes during the COVID-19 pandemic. PJM is using a combination of technological and organizational processes to prepare for hurricanes during the pandemic. Activities include the development of a third control room to increase redundancy and maintaining social distance at control center, investment in more resilient communications technology to maintain connectivity, and taking a holistic approach to identifying issues related to supply chain and fuel security. With this mix of organizational and technological processes, we argue that critical infrastructure resilience should be understood as a sociotechnical construct and identify several recommendations for improving resilience. The article has implications for policymakers working to maintain infrastructure resilience to natural hazards during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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