Resilience Solutions

In the previous section we discussed what dependencies are and how they can be built into planning. This section provides an overview of options for enhancing resilience and contains a set of case studies and resources you can use to build resilience in your community or region.

Once infrastructure dependencies have been identified, actions can be developed to reduce associated risks and provide resilience. You should first establish what your resilience objectives are. This will help determine the best mitigation strategy to pursue.

There are many approaches to reducing infrastructure risk, some of which are detailed below alongside key questions that should be considered when selecting mitigation options. Note that mitigating infrastructure risk does not necessarily entail heavy investment in physical infrastructure—there are many ways to develop plans and procedures that can reduce risk without significant capital investment. When evaluating the wide variety of options available for enhancing resilience, the relevant costs and benefits of each should be considered. FEMA has developed a benefit-cost analysis toolkit that can aid communities in making these decisions, though many other tools are available.

As you consider mitigation measures, you should think about:

  • What strategies and actions can be used to meet resilience objectives?
  • What is the effectiveness of the measure in protecting the system from disruption?
    • Does it significantly reduce the risk?
    • Does it address multiple hazards?
    • Does the measure mitigate a risk upon which multiple other systems or functions are dependent?
  • How much will the measure cost in comparison to the benefits it will provide?
  • Are there barriers – such as technical feasibility, legal issues, political opposition, or social or environmental impacts – that would pose challenges to implementation?
  • How should measures be prioritized based on decision criteria and considerations such as co-benefits, capability, and resource availability?
  • What is the capability/authority of the community to address infrastructure system services and what other jurisdictions or private sector providers are important to those objectives?
  • How could other community plans and authorities be used to implement these measures?
  • What outside technical, regulatory, investment, cooperative agreement or other resources are needed and available to implement those solutions?

With those considerations in mind, approaches to mitigating infrastructure risk include:

  • Having a backup system or redundant provider
  • Having a workaround
  • Protecting infrastructure to reduce the risk of disruption

In the sections below, you can explore options an ideas for each of the three primary methods for reducing risk from dependencies, as well as considerations for implementing measures for enhancing resilience.

Backup systems and redundant providers

Fire icon  Emergency contracts for critical commodities

Similar to dual suppliers, arranging emergency contracts for critical commodities can provide communities with a rapid option for acquiring items like fuel and medical supplies during an emergency.

Pulse icon Dual suppliers of critical products and raw materials

Identifying multiple suppliers of key products such as fuel or medical supplies can reduce delays during a disruption and help ensure their availability in case one supplier is unable to provide services.

Plug icon  Acquiring alternatives for backup power

Electric power is fundamental to virtually all infrastructure operations – acquiring permanent generators, obtaining portable generators that can be feasibly deployed, installing battery backup systems, or tying into a microgrid can help ensure key facilities and systems continue to operate during a power disruption.

Umbrella icon  System interconnects from secondary providers

Interconnects with regional systems – whether tying in adjacent water and wastewater systems, identifying secondary substations that can provide power to a facility or system, or adding interconnects with regional power providers – provide a redundant source of key services.

File Icon  Developing a continuity of operations plan

Continuity of operations plans provide a set of procedures for maintaining system operations during an incident and may include identification of supplemental providers of critical services and commodities in the event of a disruption. Having this type of plan in place can help businesses maintain continuous operations, as well as help communities be prepared to adapt to interruptions in critical services.


For backup systems and redundant services, communities should consider:

  • What plans/partners are in place to get alternate critical services (water, power, supplies, etc.) following a disruption?
  • Are there critical system interconnects?
  • Does the backup system depend on other services/systems?
  • Is my redundant provider the same as multiple other systems? Where am I in priority for receiving services?


Cube icon  Product storage

Increased product storage, such as additional fuel or water tankage, can help a community weather disruptions to the supply of critical products.

Bullseye Icon  Stockpiles of critical materials

Increasing the on-hand supply of critical products, such as fuel, water, or medical supplies can improve resilience to disruptions that may delay or prevent their normal delivery.

Tow truck icon  Response and recovery planning

Response and recovery planning activities can provide an opportunity to consider how a community will respond to and manage loss of one or more infrastructure systems, and detail plans for providing key services in the absence of infrastructure systems.


As communities consider work-arounds, think about:

  • How long can operations be maintained without the service?
  • What are the impacts on operations?
  • Is the community able to absorb these impacts?
  • How long can a work-around be sustained?

Protect infrastructure against disruption

Cog icon  Build a new structure

Capital investment in new facilities can increase redundancy of infrastructure services or replace aging or vulnerable systems and assets. This can include installing separate, redundant assets that can provide services or simply increase the capacity of existing systems.

Refresh icon  Update zoning, building codes, and standards

Zoning, building codes, and adoption of standards can create requirements for facilities and systems to comply with resilience objectives in a community. These can be used to limit development in hazard-prone areas and reduce vulnerability for new assets and systems.

Octagon Outline  Construct a protective barrier

Mitigation measures such as flood walls, levees, and fire breaks can be proactively built and maintained to protect key facilities from natural hazards in vulnerable areas.

Open in new page icon  Relocate a facility

Relocation of key systems and residential buildings out of hazard-prone areas can significantly reduce their risk.

Chart icon  Perform regular maintenance to meet required performance

Regular maintenance activities can extend the lifespan of infrastructure systems and reduce their risk of failure during an incident. This can include everything from maintaining roads and bridges, to replacing water distribution pipes, to keeping power systems clear of trees and other overgrowth.

Chevron icon  Retrofit a structure

Building or system retrofits can reduce the vulnerability of key systems to hazards like flooding, earthquakes, wildfire or intentional attack. Groups like the American Society of Civil Engineers can provide a series of standards that can be used to improve the physical resilience of facilities.

Shield icon  Add or enhance existing security

Increased security measures can lower the threat of and vulnerability to intentional attacks that seek to disrupt infrastructure systems. These can include increased detection capabilities, such as cameras and lighting, as well as denial capabilities, such as security personnel, gates, and locks.



Across the various options for reducing risk and enhancing the resilience of infrastructure systems, there are a number of key considerations that will help communities and regions implement these measures:

  • Who will be responsible for implementation?
  • What other parties (partners or collaborators) should be involved?
  • What type of funding will be used to implement the action? (loan, grant, public-private partnership, etc.)
  • What type of personnel are needed to implement the action? (government, contractor, legal, etc.)
  • What type of material resources are needed to implement the action? (equipment, raw materials, etc.)
  • What is the estimated timeframe for implementation?

Once resilience solutions have been identified and developed, they should be validated or tested to ensure that they effectively meet resilience goals. One way this can be done is by performing an exercise (tabletop, functional, or full-scale) of specific plans and/or measures.



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