Resiliency is emerging as the underlying theme for protecting infrastructure, integrated in both policy drafting and boots-on-the-ground tactics across a number of different transportation industries.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to deliver a speech at NAVCENT’s Maritime Infrastructure Protection Conference in Bahrain. My task was to outline a successful policy framework for critical maritime infrastructure. After presenting four postulates and an observation at the beginning of the speech, I then wove together a rather wonkish speech about how to look at protecting maritime infrastructure from a policy perspective. While there were plenty of gates, guards, guns, perimeters, and tactics presentations, the organizers brought in enough strategic experts to make the point that it takes both a coherent policy framework and nuts and bolts folks on the ground to successfully protect critical infrastructure.
The five points that I made in my opening comments were:
• Protection without resilience is a fools game.
• Resiliency and protection work better when there is a rational policy framework.
• Resiliency and protection work better when there is a clear business case.
• Resiliency and protection need to be “baked in”.
• It’s all about risk.
Many of these themes resurfaced when I attended the American Trucking Association’s Trucking Security Conference in Long Beach, California, last week. While I think my wonkish comments on maritime infrastructure protection are equally applicable to our trucking industry and our highway infrastructure, this conference was all about nuts and bolts. Given that I was in the mood to consume nuts and bolts, I came away with several key points:
• We are incredibly dependent on the trucking industry and the highway infrastructure to meet our daily needs, so the system had better be resilient.
• The nature and fragmentation of the trucking industry is an advantage with respect to resiliency, but we don’t have a strong policy framework.
• Implementing security measures is most successful when there are strong business incentives.
• The best security is indeed “baked in”.
• It’s all about risk.
It may be simplistic, but when I thought about what I’d learned about the trucking industry and what I knew about protection and resiliency, I came up with two key observations:
• Trucking industry security measures that protect against the threat of terrorism parallel the security measures that protect against theft, fraud, embezzlement, etc. which are created to protect business interests. The insurance industry gets this and can be strong ally in our nation’s efforts to protect this vital industry.
• The fragmentation of the industry is a positive factor for resiliency only if there is excellent information flow within the industry and among its key stakeholders and the government.
Whether it’s maritime infrastructure or highways and the trucking industry, there are at least two parts to achieving resiliency. First is the framework that government must provide that includes overarching policy and mechanisms for information sharing. Second is the industry’s ability to translate the business incentives for improving security and resiliency into concrete measures that bring about results.