End users’ challenges, needs and requirements for assessing resilience

This report summarizes the results from the work in Task 1.3 of the SmartResilience project. Within the Work Package “Establishing the project baseline and the common framework”, Task 1.3 contributes to a better understanding of the indicators for resilience assessment by examining the actual needs from the ones responsible for such an assessment.

This deliverable establishes, at an early stage in the project, a baseline for understanding end users’ current and projected challenges, needs and requirements for assessing resilience of critical infrastructures and using resilience indicators (RIs) for doing so. This is a necessary step to ensure that the resilience assessment methodology and smart RIs will be designed in ways that are useful and therefore adopted, thus delivering increased resilience for critical infrastructures, beyond the project.

The identification of end users’ challenges, needs and requirements in assessing resilience within Task 1.3 has been guided by an actor analysis approach and is predominantly based on qualitative methods, consisting of semi-structured individual or group interviews with key end users connected to critical infrastructures, desktop studies and literature reviews. The task has covered eight critical infrastructures in the SmartResilience case studies (ALPHA-HOTEL) as well as an additional case study covering interconnected critical infrastructures (DSB). Furthermore, in order to take into account end users beyond these nine case studies, a literature review has been carried out as well as a survey among the Members of the Community of Users of Safe, Secure and Resilient Societies (CoU).

The key findings from Task 1.3 are summarized below:

  • Designing useful indicators requires extensive end user involvement in order to be able to integrate the indicators into existing organizational processes. There is a need to define the “work” that the indicators are supposed to do and make sure they meet the challenges of interconnected infrastructures.
  • End users in the case studies confirmed and provided further insight into the following key challenges, which are illustrated by examples: the concept of resilience; external threats (climate change, cyber-attacks, terrorist attacks, flooding); the complexity of critical infrastructures; and data management.
  • End users in the case studies expressed specific needs and requirements, which has been analyzed in terms of five dimensions of resilience and illustrated by examples: system/physical; information/data; organizational/business: societal/political and cognitive/decision-making.
  • The survey to the CoU indicated that some actors do not see a need to develop RIs because they think current practices are sufficient. Although the low response rate calls for caution in interpreting the results, the responses suggests a number of challenges for the SmartResilience project. First, the need for the project to create assessments and RIs that are clearly regarded as providing added value in relation to end users’ current and projected needs. Second, the challenge to design assessments and RIs that can be widely disseminated, while at the same time taking different contexts into account.
  • Three implications for indicator development are suggested. Firstly, indicators should be developed with an appropriate end user in mind. This means posing questions such as: What organization, and what function or user group, will use it? What is their interest in using indicators? What is their legitimacy to spread the indicator in the critical infrastructure? Secondly, indicators should be developed in dialogue with end users, in order to increase the likelihood that they cover areas that are relevant and currently not sufficiently covered; are relevant, understandable and legitimate; and are designed according to end users’ own motives for assessing resilience and perceptions of usefulness. Thirdly, indicators should be developed in alignment with end users’ organizational processes. This suggests that the project should develop indicators which are easy to understand in order to decrease the dependency of individual expertise and misunderstandings across different organizations; meet the level of capacity of resources that the organization(s) are willing to spend on assessments of resilience; and allow end users to collect, process and share (big) data, taking data security into account.

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