The National Academies

NCHRP 08-146 [Pending]

Integrating Resiliency into Transportation System Operations

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Contract Time: 22 months
Staff Responsibility: Trey Joseph Wadsworth

Throughout the United States, transportation systems are experiencing increased frequency and severity of natural and human-caused events, forcing a recognition of a new normal that results in losses of life and major damage to public and private property. These events exist on a spectrum: known, forecasted, and unknown. Known events and their impacts can be anticipated with some degree of accuracy because of prior experiences with such events (e.g., planned special events or planned major roadwork). Forecasted events also are based on prior experiences, but their impacts are more difficult to understand and estimate because there is less certainty and possibly an incomplete understanding of the nature of the event, especially as experiences and data do not reflect the new normal (e.g., major weather events). Unknown events are those not anticipated in any manner (failure of imagination, compounding crises, or new phenomena not previously experienced) and therefore their impacts can be severe and resilience strategies may be imprecise or not yet considered.
Much of the focus in improving the resilience of the transportation system has been on infrastructure investments for hardening or redesigning critical infrastructure elements to ensure that they survive deliberate attacks or natural or human-caused events. While this is an important perspective, the nature of investments needed to implement these improvements is often large and time-consuming. Less attention has been afforded to the need to address resilience as a major element in operations and management of the transportation system (at all levels of government) to identify less costly and time-consuming operational strategies, tools, scalable approaches, or partnerships. State department of transportation (DOT) system operators need to understand resilient approaches and how to systematically incorporate them to manage events and impacts to create a “culture of resilience” and to understand their capability gaps. 
Integrating resilience into planning for operations begins with an understanding of the needs, the goals and objectives; the performance management of operational reliability; and the alternatives to be considered. However, a major barrier to addressing resilience is that resilience is generally larger than a single asset or event and requires coordination among multiple agencies, jurisdictions, funding sources, and transportation modes. Integrating resilience into planning for operations can give resilience greater visibility in the transportation planning and programming process so that resilience is considered when major investments are made in new infrastructure or when investments are made to improve the performance of existing infrastructure.
The objectives of this research are (1) identify the extent to which operational resilience is considered within DOTs and determine capability gaps, (2) determine operational resilience goals from the perspective of system operators across multiple modes, and (3) identify mechanisms for integrating operational resilience into system management processes to build a “culture of resilience.”
Accomplishment of the project objective(s) will require at least the following tasks.
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives.
The research will be conducted in two phases. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail for both phases.
The Phase I research plan should include, but not be limited to, a literature search; a survey of relevant public agencies and private sector organizations who employ operational resilience strategies and approaches; and appropriate investigations that summarize operational resilience and identify capability gaps. In exploring capability gaps, proposers may want to consider communication protocols, policies, plans, procedures/processes, personnel issues, technology, equipment, funding, formalized agreements for coordination with other agencies and partners, etc., to identify strategies and mechanisms for closing these gaps so DOT system operators are prepared to act. Strategies and activities considered by transportation professionals, to institutionalize resilience into planning for operations, may need to address a range of topics, but not limited to the following:
  • Communications
    • Define terminology to achieve common understandings of resilience, risk, response, redundancy, criticality, and vulnerability.
    • Enhance communications to assist operators before, during, and after events and to gain or sustain community trust.
  • Equity
    • Incorporate the concept of community or social resiliency as both an asset to ensure equitable operational resilience and avoid undue impacts.
    • Understand the needs and requirements of different geographies, e.g., urban vs. rural contexts.
    • Consider the importance of community resilience and social equity in transportation systems operation.
  • Partnerships
    • Reach beyond jurisdictions, public and private sectors, or modal silos to potentially offer detours or other modes to provide capacity before, during, and after events.
  • Resources
    • Ensure the availability and capability of personnel, equipment, and other resources before, during, and after events.
    • Create and execute continuity of operations plans or formalized agreements for cooperation.
  • Security
    • Maintain reliability and security of transportation system operations infrastructure (e.g., operations technologies at risk of cyber threats).
    • Prepare and transition as emerging technology integrates into the transportation system, such as for mixed-traffic conditions (i.e., connected and automated vehicles with human-driven vehicles).
Proposers may recommend additional tasks or deliverables to support the first phase. The first phase will conclude with the delivery of an Interim Report and a Phase II research plan.
Phase II research tasks are envisioned to drill down on tactical strategies, approaches, tools, or partnerships with the potential use of workshops, demonstrations, lessons learned, and case studies/use cases to develop guidance to assist transportation agencies in achieving operational resilience.
Anticipated final deliverables include (1) a final report that documents the research findings and guidelines, (2) a PowerPoint presentation with speaker notes that summarizes the project, (3) a draft article suitable for publication in the TR News (no guarantee of publication is implied), and (4) an Implementation Plan.

STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=4957