Handbook on Resilience of Socio-Technical Systems
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Handbook on Resilience of Socio-Technical Systems

Edited by Matthias Ruth and Stefan Goessling-Reisemann

The goal to improve the resilience of social systems – communities and their economies – is increasingly adopted by decision makers. This unique and comprehensive Handbook focuses on the interdependencies of these social systems and the technologies that support them. Special attention is given to the ways in which resilience is conceptualized by different disciplines, how resilience may be assessed, and how resilience strategies are implemented. Case illustrations are presented throughout to aid understanding.
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Chapter 12: Leveraging government resiliency assessments and related reports: identifying and redressing recurring gaps and systemic barriers through content analysis and cross-case synthesis

Russell Bowman


The rise of resilience as a construct for improving critical infrastructure systems, and homeland security more broadly, has led to an array of US government attempts to assess and document the status of key assets, individual communities, ports and larger geographic regions, as well as entire infrastructure sectors. Unfortunately, after producing detailed reports, government agencies often lack the time or resources to analyze and integrate the growing volume of systems data these efforts produce. The lack of common standards, definitions and metrics among such assessments further complicates efforts to integrate the findings of these fragmented, overlapping and occasionally duplicative initiatives. This chapter presents an inductive–deductive content analysis methodology well suited for unearthing recurring resilience gaps and systemic barriers to their removal that too often remain buried in the rich fields of existing government studies. After providing an overview of this qualitative cross-case analysis design, this chapter illustrates the utility and challenges of such an approach by recounting a recent application: a comprehensive study of the Department of Homeland Security’s Regional Resiliency Assessment Program, an interagency assessment of critical infrastructure for a designated geographic region. The chapter concludes by encouraging wider use of extant resiliency data and cataloguing some of the many government infrastructure assessments that could be targeted for future research using this methodology.

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