Special Issue "Civil/Environmental Systems Design"

A special issue of Systems (ISSN 2079-8954).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Royce Francis

Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science, The George Washington University; 800 22nd St. NW Washington, DC 20052, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: risk analysis; resilience analysis; Bayesian statistical modeling; infrastructure systems analysis; regulatory risk analysis; sustainability engineering

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The past 15 years have seen a marked increase in the use of the term resilience and related terms. Typically, resilience is used in the sense intended in United States Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21) of the Obama Administration. PPD-21 defines resilience as reducing vulnerabilities, minimizing consequences, identifying and disrupting threats, and hastening response and recovery to adverse events. While this definition of resilience roughly captures the most common international meanings of resilience, researchers have begun to question its utility. In addition, this definition of resilience has often been applied to infrastructure systems; that is, resilience in infrastructure systems literature is assumed to be a quantifiable property of lifeline infrastructure systems. Efforts to quantify resilience have been immensely fruitful in inspiring theoretical and practical contributions. Nonetheless, resilience is beginning to be re-conceptualized in terms of community functionality. For example, the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has focused their efforts on promulgating the term “community resilience” as opposed to “infrastructure resilience.” To this end, NIST has released several resilience assessment guides (e.g., NIST-GCR16-001, NIST-GCR17-013, website) that discuss the role of inter-dependent infrastructure systems in supporting community dimensions such as sustenance, community belonging, education and personal development, and institutional relationships.

In view of this novel approach to operationalizing resilience as community resilience, the purpose of this Special Issue is to explore the interconnected ways that community resilience and infrastructure resilience mutually reinforce one another. On the one hand, the resilience of the physical lifeline systems to shocks, threats, or changes in the operational environment is critical to the continuity of community functions. On the other hand, the community transcends the physical lifeline systems supporting its activities. The community is constituted of social, religious, political, and economic relationships. These might be considered sociotechnical characteristics of the community. Each of these categories of relationships shapes the formation of lifeline infrastructures in non-deterministic ways. In other words, the shape and function of lifeline infrastructure systems are not primarily a function of the technical characteristics of the systems, but are primarily a function of the sociotechnical characteristics of the community.

It is crucial to develop deeper understanding of the ways in which community resilience and infrastructure resilience are intertwined due to differences in the ability of both systems to improvise and reconfigure themselves under unforeseen extreme circumstances. While it is possible for both systems to adapt to new conditions, the physical infrastructure is very durable and characterized by robustness—not flexibility. As a result, physical infrastructure is somewhat resistant to new conditions and adaptation may be difficult. Real-time adaptation, especially in the short- to medium-term, is due to the response of the community, including the reconfiguration of relationships among system stakeholders, owners, and regulators.

This Special Issue is seeking to publish papers that investigate this mutually reinforcing relationship between the technical features of the physical lifeline infrastructure systems and the sociotechnical features of the community. This call defines lifeline critical infrastructure systems using the definition of infrastructure systems appearing in Peerenboom and Kelly [1] and the sectors listed in the NIST Community Resilience Planning Guide [2]. A sample, but not exhaustive, list of potential topics of interest includes:

  • Characterization of community dependence on critical infrastructure interdependencies;
  • Characterization of impact of community structure or form on critical infrastructure resilience;
  • Assessment of lifeline infrastructure system vulnerabilities introduced by community structure, form, or social and economic needs;
  • Identification and formulation of performacne-based metrics for infrasturcutre-systems in light of community resilience;
  • Assessment or exploration of mutual responses between communities and lifeline infrastructures to unanticipated or adverse events;
  • Novel modeling approaches used in the study of the relationships among communities and infrastructure systems.

Interdisciplinary contributions investigating research problems in these topics are especially encouraged. We invite original research articles, as well as review articles reporting contributions addressing these topics.


[1] Rinaldi, S.M.; Peerenboom, J.P.; Kelly, T.K. Identifying, understanding, and analyzing critical infrastructure interdependencies. IEEE Control Systems Magazine. 2001, 11–25.

[2] NIST Community Resilience Planning Guide. Available online: http://www.nist.gov/el/resilience/guide.cfm.

Dr. Royce Francis
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Systems is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Infrastructure Resilience
  • Community Resilience
  • Networked Lifeline Infrastructure Systems
  • Resilience Engineering
  • Sustainability Engineering

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle Resilience of Critical Infrastructure Elements and Its Main Factors
Received: 12 April 2018 / Revised: 11 May 2018 / Accepted: 30 May 2018 / Published: 4 June 2018
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Resilience in a critical infrastructure system can be viewed as a quality that reduces vulnerability, minimizes the consequences of threats, accelerates response and recovery, and facilitates adaptation to a disruptive event. In this context, comprehensive knowledge of the environment and of the main [...] Read more.
Resilience in a critical infrastructure system can be viewed as a quality that reduces vulnerability, minimizes the consequences of threats, accelerates response and recovery, and facilitates adaptation to a disruptive event. In this context, comprehensive knowledge of the environment and of the main factors whereby resilience is determined, limited, and affected can be said to represent the fundamental precondition for strengthening the resilience of critical infrastructure elements. Based on this idea, the article defines the initial and functional conditions for building and strengthening the resilience of critical infrastructure elements, i.e., the resilience concept in a critical infrastructure system. Subsequently, factors determining the resilience of these elements are identified, both in terms of technical resilience (i.e., robustness and recoverability) and organizational resilience (i.e., adaptability). In the final part of the article, these factors are presented in greater detail in the context of case studies focused on the electricity, gas, information and communications technology, and road transport sectors. Determination of these factors is examined with regard to the intensity of a disruptive event and the performance of the respective critical infrastructure element. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Civil/Environmental Systems Design)

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