The National Academies

NCHRP 23-09 [Active]

Scoping Study to Develop the Basis for a Highway Standard to Conduct an All-Hazards Risk and Resilience Analysis

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared
Research Agency: AEM Corporation
Principal Investigator: Maria Pena
Effective Date: 10/20/2020
Completion Date: 4/20/2022

Risk-informed asset management and an understanding of system resilience are two relatively new concepts within the transportation industry. Transportation agencies often use all-hazards risk and resilience analyses to make decisions about enhancing system resilience. The Federal Emergency Management Administration defines "all-hazards" as “Natural, technological, or human-caused incidents that warrant action to protect life, property, environment, and public health or safety…” (https://training.fema.gov/programs/emischool/el361toolkit/glossary.htm). To conduct all-hazards risk and resiliency analyses for transportation assets, a transportation agency must:  
  • Know assets’ locations and their criticality for service delivery; 
  • Understand potential natural and man-made threats and associated likelihoods affecting assets;
  • Be able to quantify the potential consequences from applicable threats to assets while adequately addressing the considerable uncertainty in those consequences; and
  • Understand the link between risk and resilience.
In 2006, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers published Risk Analysis and Management for Critical Infrastructure Protection (RAMCAP), an all-hazards approach to critical infrastructure risk assessment. The initial document focused on terrorist activities but has since expanded into analysis of natural hazards such as extreme weather, seismic events, and changing environmental conditions, given the increased activity from such threats in recent years. RAMCAP identifies transportation as a critical sector, along with industries such as banking, oil/gas, electricity, water/wastewater, and nuclear energy. To date, several industries, including the water/wastewater sector, have developed an industry-specific standard for risk assessment. By demonstrating an active approach to risk assessment and management developed and approved by professionals within the water/wastewater sector, those agencies have seen improvements in bond ratings and reductions in insurance premiums. While RAMCAP provides a generic approach to critical infrastructure risk assessment, it does not provide specific information on asset performance under applicable threats for any one critical sector. 
Through pilot studies, state departments of transportation (DOTs) have applied RAMCAP and similar guidance to risk and resilience analysis in their states. FHWA’s Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Framework (FHWA-HEP-18-020), for example, is guidance based on significant pilot studies in a large number of states. Four key lessons from the state DOT pilot studies include:
1. Though some research studies have been published on transportation asset performance under physical threats, this information is scattered across many published articles dating back to the 1960s and has not been compiled in a user-friendly format.

2. State agencies see the need for a common language for risk and resilience practitioners to facilitate adoption and implementation of consistent and effective risk management and resilience practices.

3. A simple industry framework is needed to support compilation of information for risk-based analysis of transportation assets, to reduce the burden on state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations by clarifying the bases for quantifying annual risk and ensuring system resilience:

  • Threat probabilities by type of hazard and by geographic location;
  • Asset vulnerability to each applicable threat, appropriately considering asset resilience; and
  • Quantitative anticipated consequences from each applicable threat to each asset, appropriately considering the significant uncertainties in those consequences.
4. Agencies prefer not to be constrained by proprietary solutions for all-hazards risk and resilience analyses but have the flexibility to implement open-source, repeatable methodologies. Inputs for these analyses should be derived from data readily available to agencies or other users.  
The AASHTO Committee on Transportation System Security and Resilience and the Subcommittees on Risk Management and Asset Management have, collectively, identified the need for a transportation-specific framework that responsible agencies can use in conducting their own all-hazards risk and resilience analyses to facilitate enterprise-wide transportation decision-making. Research is needed to develop this framework and provide guidance on its use.
The objective of this research is to provide a scoping study for a transportation framework for all-hazards risk and resilience analysis of transportation assets. The scoping study is to accomplish the following objectives:
1. Develop a comprehensive and consistent set of risk- and resilience-related terminology for transportation agency use; and

2. Provide a research roadmap for developing a framework for a quantitative all-hazards risk and resilience analysis of transportation assets, with its associated tools, and guidance on its application.

The project is active.

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