Contextualizing resilience indicators – comparable across organizations yet specific to context

In an increasingly complex and interdependent world, it has become increasingly difficult and costly to identify and protect systems, communities or organizations against all possible threats. Resilience approaches, however, provide capacities or abilities to respond to hazards and threats beyond existing scenarios and associated response plans, as well as learn from these disturbances and improve performance.

Thus, resilience approaches provides increased capabilities for strengthening beyond traditional risk, crisis and business continuity approaches. However, there are inherent challenges of contextualizing resilience indicators for specific uses for specific critical infrastructures while also designing a comprehensive and multidimensional approach as well as for comparison across various infrastructures. Based upon the development and application of an indicator-based decision-support system for resilience in a Horizon 2020 project, we describe and analyse how we addressed such challenges, providing opportunities for improving resilience for drinking water supply and distribution in Sweden.

The findings show the value of a modular approach, iterative indicator design processes with relevant stakeholders, the necessity to attend to their organizational processes, to the regulatory context as well as to the assignments, evaluation criteria and cognitive regimes among various target audiences. The approach is a useful methodology to achieve policy objectives for critical infrastructures from a systemic perspective, such as identifying and evaluating resilience, development of measures to increase resilience and the development of performance metric as well as facilitating information-sharing and training.

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