Systems of Systems Perspectives on Critical Infrastructure Management in Response to Climate Change and Sea Level Rise

Conference Paper
Authors:Haimes, Yacov, Department of Systems and Information EngineeringUniversity of Virginia Stakhiv, Eugene, IWRUSACE

Since 1980, the U.S. has experienced 151 weather disasters with damages exceeding one billion dollars each. With changing climate and development patterns and the severity and frequency of extreme weather events increasing, the United States must address the vulnerability of its complex critical infrastructure, which is largely a fragmented system of systems. The nation’s critical infrastructure provides the essential services that underpin the American way of life. A vast array of interdependent infrastructure and information technology networks, services, and resources enable communication, facilitate travel, power our homes and businesses, underpin our economy, and support essential government services. The aging or deteriorating condition of significant parts of these systems both weakens our resilience and negatively affects our nation’s security and prosperity. Adaptation and adjustment to natural and human systems in response to actual or expected climate change will require a risk management strategy to protect vulnerable infrastructures and communities.

The complex and variable uncertainties associated with climate change, coupled with sea level rise, will exacerbate the failures of these complex, tightly coupled infrastructure systems. Complex systems are commonly composed of myriad subsystems, which in their essence constitute systems of systems (SoS). Each SoS is characterized by a hierarchy of interacting networks and components, with multiple functions, operations, efficiencies, and cost of use. SoS are specific configurations of coupled systems and subsystems with shared states, and usually shared stakeholders, decisions, and objectives. Modeling such systems and their management requires non-conventional approaches.

This workshop was designed to improve our understanding of the intra- and interdependencies and interconnections within and among SoS, both infrastructure systems and their respective management systems that are affected by sea level rise and increased climate variability. The interdependency of the systems makes them more vulnerable to natural and human-caused disruptive events such as sea level rise, and thus introduce challenges for their protection. The framework for addressing the risk of climate change necessarily involves the entities tasked with implementing the workshop’s policy recommendations and their federal leadership partners. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and state governments actively engaged the public (federal and state) to solicit input and knowledge regarding infrastructure risk as well as the of review and support for the recommendations for infrastructure adaptation. The public cohort involved with the workshop collaborated with scientists, practicing engineers, and academics who were studying resilience and vulnerability in the context of risk-based systems engineering. Our collaboration developed a practical, hierarchically linked risk management framework to effectively limit and proactively manage the myriad sources of risk associated with climate change adaptation strategies for critical infrastructure.

systems of systems engineering
University of Virginia
Published Date:
March 9, 2016
Sponsoring Agency: