by Michel Boufadel, Firas Gerges, and Hani Nassif

Resilience is the capacity to endure and recover following a disaster. Enhancing the resilience of communities has been recognized as a major policy decision that brings together various sectors of society. The recent passage of New Jersey Law S2607 requires municipalities to incorporate climate-related hazard vulnerability assessments within their master plan updates for resilience planning and design.  However, integrating the interest of stakeholders from various sectors has been an elusive step. Our team developed a Community Intrinsic Resilience Index (CIRI) to provide a metric for community resilience. CIRI captures information from five critical sectors: energy, natural system, public health, socio-economic, and transportation. In essence, CIRI combines information from infrastructure and the social weave of communities, and provides a numerical value for decision makers. Scenarios can be considered based on selected projects, which allows prioritization.

An advantage of CIRI is that the resulting index value represents the intrinsic resilience of a region and not its relative level by comparison to other regions. Another advantage of CIRI is that it can be computed using an online mapping web platform, based on GIS technologies, for any area, irrespective of political boundaries. The web platform is easy to use (point and click), and thus makes resilience discussions and communications simpler. Using preliminary data, our team calculated the resilience level of NJ counties using the CIRI framework and found that the resilience level was 45% to 67% for transportation, 55% to 97% for Health, and 43% to 80% for socioeconomics. Using these three sectors (as energy information was not available), CIRI ranged between 63% and 80%. The funding from the Policy Lab would further develop the energy module of CIRI and calibrate the index to historic events in New Jersey (discussions are ongoing with two communities to pilot the work). We expect that our work further demonstrates that community involvement strengthens resilience (awareness, decision making, and support). We also believe that CIRI would address energy budget deficits in underserved communities in New Jersey.

The team consists of Dr. Michel Boufadel, Mr. Firas Gerges, and Dr. Hani Nassif. Dr. Boufadel is Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering, and Director of the Center for Natural Resources ( at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT); Gerges is PhD Candidate in Computer Science at NJIT; and Dr. Nassif is Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of the RIME lab at Rutgers University.