Public Infrastructure Support for Protective Emergency Services


Rae Zimmerman
Professor of Planning and Public Administration and Director, Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems
Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
T: 212.998.7432    F: 212.995.3890

Summary of Objectives and Approach:

Protective emergency services, such as emergency management, health, police and fire protection, routinely depend upon a wide range of traditional infrastructure support services, including transportation, energy, water, environmental protection, and communication infrastructure, to provide and deploy human resources, goods, and information in times of crisis. This project identifies relationships between these two types of service areas – traditional infrastructure and emergency services - and vulnerabilities and choke points created at interconnection points among them during emergencies. The purpose is provide resources to prepare managers and operators of both traditional infrastructure services and emergency services with an explicit way of incorporating each others’ needs into the design of their services. The project goal is to help develop easily communicated emergency procedures for infrastructure managers that focus on the key interconnections between traditional infrastructure and protective services and the vulnerabilities in these linkages created by emergency conditions. The outputs include: criteria to identify interconnections between emergency services and other infrastructure; two workshops to obtain input from practitioners and academicians; a demonstration of actual interconnection points in selected geographic areas and service sectors and a review of prototypical interconnections and vulnerabilities; and methods to disseminate results.


  1. Development of a preliminary case-based database parameters (criteria) and representative data for key linkages among critical infrastructures and between those infrastructures and emergency services using literature and case reviews and analysis
  2. Development and application of measures of key interdependencies among telecommunications, transportation, and electric power for applicability to interdependencies with emergency services
  3. Identification and assembly of databases and maps of infrastructure location from other sources to initiate overlays of infrastructure geography to identify areas of potential interdependencies
  4. Identification of networks of protective emergency service providers and users for selected geographic areas, meetings with such providers, and visits to facilities
  5. Engagement of a web designer for website design and enhancement for database and education access (draft work is being edited, and the main site revisions should be ready for launching in 2006).
  6. Publication of research related to this project by the PI and integration or extraction of findings for this project, for example, PI publications in the Journal of Urban Health (2005), International Journal of Critical Infrastructures (2006), and The McGraw Hill Handbook on Homeland Security (2006)
  7. Current conference presentations accepted and preparations underway:
    • Paper presentation at the World Planning Schools Congress, transportation and infrastructure planning track, July 2006
    • Invited presentation for a panel on NYC and critical infrastructure at a symposium on terrorism, The New School, June 28, 2006

Future Plans for the Remainder of the Project Period

(including ongoing activities that would typically extend beyond the official project period and benefit from an extended project period; these activities are indicated below as “ongoing”)

The deliverables for these activities are a white paper or monograph and publications covering interconnections between traditional infrastructure and emergency services, criteria for improving these interconnections, a demonstration or application of the criteria, literature and case reviews that support these findings, and an educational curriculum and design of a web portal to house this information for dissemination of research and education.

About Rae Zimmerman, Project Director

Professor Rae Zimmerman has over 25 years of experience in infrastructure and extreme events research. She is currently the Director of the National Science Foundation-funded Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems (ICIS) at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. ICIS is a multi-university, interdisciplinary partnership (with the University of Southern California, Cornell, and Polytechnic University of New York) that addresses infrastructure issues. She also heads NYU’s research in critical infrastructure as a partner in the Homeland Security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism, headquartered at the University of Southern California and funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as a participant in the I3P (Institute for Information Infrastructure) consortium project on SCADA systems and their role in security of the oil and gas sector located at Dartmouth College, a former member of the National Academy of Sciences Chemical Stockpile Disposal Committee and the U.S. EPA Board of Scientific Counselors. Zimmerman has also served as the former president of the Society for Risk Analysis. She has led numerous collaborations in connection with the World Trade Center attacks and critical infrastructure aspects of homeland security.