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Facility Management | Developing an Infrastructure Resiliency Model

  • Jessica Gopalakrishnan
  • August 22, 2019

After Hurricane Sandy, the City of New York went to work to make the city’s infrastructure and facilities more resilient.

A consequence of their efforts was NYC’s new resiliency code, which “establishes guidance on incorporating projected impacts from climate change into the planning, engineering, construction, and renovation of City facilities.”

One of the authors of that code, John D’Angelo, who currently works as Assistant Vice President of Facilities for the University of Chicago, joined ARC on a recent webinar to educate viewers about infrastructure resiliency models.

You can watch or listen to that webinar here, or keep reading for a recap.

The 5-Step Process of Developing an Infrastructure Resiliency Model

1. Identify and Categorize Risk

D’Angelo explained that it’s critical to gather a team of risk stakeholders before setting out to identify risks. For facilities teams in higher education, this means including emergency services, senior administrators, and campus and student life in the risk identification process.

“The more stakeholders you have, the more out-of-the-box thinking you’ll get identifying risks,” D’Angelo said.

Once you’ve gathered your stakeholders, it’s time to develop risk categories. These risk categories won’t be the same for every organization but a few examples that D’Angelo provided include technological risks, environmental risks, and human risks.

Whatever categories you chose, it’s important to choose risk categories that mean something to your specific institution. If you’re not sure, D’Angelo suggests using mission and vision statements put out by your institution to identify potential risk categories to highlight.

2. Prioritize Risks

Since you can’t mitigate all risks, you need a way to prioritize risk mitigation measures. For that, D’Angelo uses a ranking model.

He presented an example of a ranking model that ranked each identified risk based on three factors: probability, severity, and recoverability. Each of those three factors was measured based on subfactors.

For example, to rate the probability of a risk, D’Angelo averaged the likelihood of a risk occurring because of external factors with the likelihood of it occurring because of internal factors. The resulting number was his “overall” likelihood.

Like choosing risk categories, D’Angelo stressed the importance of using risk factors that are meaningful to your institution. Ideally, he said, you can speak with the compliance or risk office within your institution and use the model that they’re already using.

The last part of prioritizing risks is to use data and stakeholder input to validate your probability and severity assessments. Using these validated scores, you can then assign overall risk scores to each individual risk simply by multiplying the average probability, severity, and recoverability scores.

3. Eliminate, Mitigate, and Reduce Risk

With your categorized and prioritized risks in hand, it’s time to evaluate how your organization can reduce the impact of your biggest risks. To do that, D’Angelo recommends that facilities teams:

  1. Start with the highest-scoring risks.
  2. Understand what’s driving the score so high.
  3. Figure out what can be done to reduce those risks.

By doing these three things, you’ll essentially be building the business cases that should be put forward to senior leadership. From there, it’s up to the organization’s leadership to evaluate the information you’ve presented and prioritize an institutional action plan.

4. Transparency Report Progress

Beyond identifying and quantifying risk, D’Angelo explained that, because developing an infrastructure resiliency model is a collaborative process, the model creates buy-in both horizontally (with other departments) and vertically (with the C-suite).

Still, winning buy-in is only the beginning, you also need to maintain buy-in through regular, transparent progress reports. D’Angelo presented two methods of reporting progress and explained that, though either method could work, the important thing is to show executives where the organization is currently and where it could be with various levels of resource allocation.

5. Update the Model

Part of the reason D’Angelo and his team kept their hospitals running during Hurricane Sandy was their commitment to updating their model. D’Angelo explained that, as the hurricane came closer and closer, they updated the probability of the hurricane risk on their resiliency model.

Based on the new information, they were able to put mitigation measures in place to keep their critical system functioning through the duration of the storm.

To ensure effective use of an infrastructure resiliency model, regular updates are required.

Bringing it All Together in a Mobile App

To wrap up the presentation, Todd Moore, National Director of Facilities Solutions, took over as presenter and emphasized the importance of not just creating the resiliency plan—as D’Angelo discussed—but also making sure that the resiliency plan’s information is available.

Moore then quickly ran through how the ARC Facilities App makes it possible to store, organize, access, and update all the information—such as critical equipment—that D’Angelo had referenced throughout the course of his presentation. Moore finished up by highlighting the fact that, because the app is cloud-based and mobile, it’s a tool that truly supports the resiliency model that D’Angelo had explained.

To end the webinar, Moore and D’Angelo took turns answering several great questions from audience members.

You can hear the answers to those questions for free, on-demand by downloading the webinar: 5 Steps to Developing an Infrastructure Resiliency Model.

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