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Keywords:

  • Disasters;
  • expert judgment;
  • infrastructure;
  • interdependencies;
  • resilience

Resilient infrastructure systems are essential for cities to withstand and rapidly recover from natural and human-induced disasters, yet electric power, transportation, and other infrastructures are highly vulnerable and interdependent. New approaches for characterizing the resilience of sets of infrastructure systems are urgently needed, at community and regional scales. This article develops a practical approach for analysts to characterize a community's infrastructure vulnerability and resilience in disasters. It addresses key challenges of incomplete incentives, partial information, and few opportunities for learning. The approach is demonstrated for Metro Vancouver, Canada, in the context of earthquake and flood risk. The methodological approach is practical and focuses on potential disruptions to infrastructure services. In spirit, it resembles probability elicitation with multiple experts; however, it elicits disruption and recovery over time, rather than uncertainties regarding system function at a given point in time. It develops information on regional infrastructure risk and engages infrastructure organizations in the process. Information sharing, iteration, and learning among the participants provide the basis for more informed estimates of infrastructure system robustness and recovery that incorporate the potential for interdependent failures after an extreme event. Results demonstrate the vital importance of cross-sectoral communication to develop shared understanding of regional infrastructure disruption in disasters. For Vancouver, specific results indicate that in a hypothetical M7.3 earthquake, virtually all infrastructures would suffer severe disruption of service in the immediate aftermath, with many experiencing moderate disruption two weeks afterward. Electric power, land transportation, and telecommunications are identified as core infrastructure sectors.