Stress Testing to Assess Recovery from Extreme Events
by John Plodinec, Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Over the last decade, communities have become increasingly aware of the risks they face. They are threatened by natural disasters, which may be exacerbated by climate change and the movement of land masses. Growing globalization has made a pandemic due to the rapid spread of highly infectious diseases ever more likely. Societal discord breeds its own threats, not the least of which is the spread of radical ideologies giving rise to terrorism. The accelerating rate of technological change has bred its own social and economic risks. This widening spectrum of risk poses a difficult question to every community–how resilient will the community be to the extreme events it faces. In this paper, we present a new approach to answering that question. It is based on the stress testing of financial institutions required by regulators in the United States and elsewhere. It generalizes stress testing by expanding the concept of “capital” beyond finance to include the other “capitals”(e.g., human, social) possessed by a community. Through use of this approach, communities can determine which investments of its capitals are most likely to improve its resilience. We provide an example of using the approach, and discuss its potential benefits.
About the Author:
Since 2008, Dr. Plodinec has been the technical lead for the activities undertaken by the Community and Regional Resilience Institute. In this role, he has been responsible for identifying and evaluating technologies that can enhance a community’s ability to anticipate emergencies and disruptions, limit their impacts, effectively respond to them and rapidly recover from them. He was the technical lead for the development of CARRI’s Community Resilience System and its Campus Resilience Enhancement System. His most important contribution to these efforts has been development of action-oriented tools that operationalize the “Whole Community” concept for both communities and college campuses. Dr. Plodinec also developed CARRI’s Resilient Home Program, aimed at improving the survivability of American homes to natural disasters. This built on earlier work he did while at Mississippi State University, where he led the University’s efforts to develop programs related to severe weather events.