Research and Innovation

LRI Workshop Highlights Data-Driven Resiliency

November 14, 2019

LMI Staff

As the world grows more unpredictable, organizations are taking stock of their resiliency.

  • Do we have the information to make the right long-term infrastructure investments?
  • How do we restore and maintain operations if there’s a disruption?
  • How do we mitigate risk?

Increased frequency of intense weather events, dependence on digital infrastructure, and other risk factors have decision-makers looking for answers. That search brought federal managers to a recent LMI Research Institute workshop, Analytics for Resilience: Infrastructure, Supply Chain, and Climate.

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James Balocki-LRI Workshop

More than a dozen experts from academia, industry, and government shared how data informs resiliency-focused decision-making and the development of resiliency frameworks. James Balocki, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Energy, and Facilities; NASA Senior Program Manager Sam Higuchi; and U.S. Postal Service Chief Sustainability Officer Jennifer Beiro-Reveille were among the government presenters.

Kelly L., who supports a homeland security agency that produced its resiliency framework earlier this year, came away with a better understanding of how resiliency ties into mission assurance, continuity of operations, and supply chain operations.

“I’m learning as I go, so it’s great to hear how other people are approaching resilience—defining it, analyzing it, and implementing frameworks,” she said. “Learning from others is huge for us. The speakers were extremely knowledgeable and interesting.”

The program centered on climate-related resiliency, where LMI has been an industry leader for over a decade. LMI has advised dozens of agencies on climate risk mitigation and adaptation planning, publishing two books: A Federal Leader’s Guide to Climate Change (2009) and Climate Change: What You Can Do Now (2012). In October, LMI announced a partnership with The Climate Service (TCS) to bring its proprietary climate data analytics software to LMI’s customers. TCS has private-sector clients in financial services, retail, real estate, and transportation, among other industries.

The preponderance of highly destructive weather events, like hurricanes Irma and Harvey in 2017, has piqued interest in understanding climate risks from a fiscal perspective, said TCS Chief Technology Officer Terry Thompson. The conversation in corporate boardrooms has shifted “from public responsibility to, actually, how am I going to run my business?” he said. “This is no longer an issue of, ‘Tell me what is going to degrade the value of this particular real estate.' It’s really shifting to the viability of the business.”

Beyond infrastructure, speakers, including Kristen Finne from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), stressed the importance of supply chains that can sustain operations during emergencies. Finne is director of the HHS emPOWER Program, which uses data to find and contact individuals who require electricity-dependent medical equipment before emergencies. She said data has helped connect providers of critical resources, like oxygen, with at-need populations.

“It’s not just having data, it’s educating [local providers] to apply the data, do a risk analysis, [and] figure out how to come up with contingencies and ways to deliver,” she said. “Many of them don’t understand who is in their communities—that’s where data, mapping and analytics are coming through ... Now we’re starting to leverage data and create scalable frameworks. There is confidence in the sharing of that information so you can bring these pieces together.”

LMI supply chain consultant Kerry McCarthy said information sharing remains an area of concern for the Department of Defense and its suppliers. “One of the big challenges is the stovepiping of information. There’s enough data out there to make a decision,” he said. “It’s a matter of how you put that [data] together to make a meaningful decision. And that is not easy.”

— Audra Upchurch

McCarthy participated on a panel with Finne and Jennifer Bisceglie, CEO of Interos. Moderated by Stu Jones, LMI's director of supply chain management, the session underscored critical considerations for supply chain resiliency. 

After lunch, the speakers and attendees conducted a group exercise to illustrate how climate risk analytics can inform decision-making processes for resilience and mission assurance.

I think it’s great,” Kelly L. said afterward. “You have your subject matter experts, certainly, but your participants have different perspectives, knowledge bases, and unique problems that you may not have thought about. I loved the interchange with people from agencies with different missions and experiences.”

Audra Upchurch, LMI's director of infrastructure, energy, and environment, said the workshop was one way LMI has reached out to customers who are tackling resiliency.

“Federal agencies are paying attention to the effect of climate change on their operations more than ever before. We hope this workshop helped them think about approaches that would be appropriate for their organizations,” she said. “But this is just the beginning of the conversation. There is much work ahead, and we look forward to helping our customers build a secure, resilient future.”  

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