The National Science Foundation (NSF) has decided to invest $20 million in the resilience of America’s critical infrastructure. The new research these funds make possible will look into improving both physical structures and response systems. According to Pramod Khargonekar, the NSF assistant director for engineering, “These research investments will help support national security, economy and people for decades to come.”

NSF Headquarters.
NSF Headquarters. (National Science Foundation)

The $20 million will fund projects which will make up a new NSF activity called Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes (CRISP). CRISP will be made up of three to four yearlong programs, each with up to $2.5 million in funding, as part of a larger effort by the foundation to invest in long-term resilience. The effort is also a collaborative one between the Directorates for Engineering, Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE).

The programs will study how certain systems operate and work to ensure operational statuses during disruptions, whether those disruptions are caused by natural disasters, technological failures, or deliberate attacks. The hope is that the research done through CRISP will lead to new and innovative ways to ensure resilience and sustainability, making the water, communications, and energy sectors, as well as others, more prepared for disturbances of any sort. As part of the overall effort to make critical infrastructure systems more resilient, the research will focus on the interdependencies that exist between different systems.

The NSF made the announcement earlier this week as part of a White House sponsored “Smart Cities Week” to promote a National Smart Cities Initiative. Along with the $20 million proposed for CRISP programs, the NSF committed almost $40 million to the projects that will “help intelligently and effectively design, adapt and manage the smart and connected communities of the future.”

The NSF has made similar commitments before, such as through its Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program.

Sources and Further Reading:

  1. NSF invests $20 million to enhance resilience of critical infrastructure – National Science Foundation (includes list of CRISP programs with links to descriptions)
  2. Cultivating smart and connected communities – National Science Foundation
  3. NSF invests in science and engineering infrastructure across the nation – National Science Foundation
  4. Critical Infrastructure Sectors – Department of Homeland Security
  5. Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes (CRISP) – National Science Foundation
  6. Cultivating smart and connected communities – National Science Foundation
  7. Life Savers: Resilient Designs to Weather Disasters – National Science Foundation