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The Path to a More Resilient Infrastructure: A Project Registry.

On Thursday, August 14th, 2003, North America's energy industry failed nearly 55 million people. A blackout, caused by cascading failures in our energy infrastructure, descended upon 8 U.S. states and Ontario. The blackout is believed to have caused 11 deaths and over $10 billion in losses to our economy.

Over 10 years on, the U.S. Department of Energy has worked with industry leaders to inquire, explore, and develop policy that strengthens our energy infrastructure against such widespread failure. These policies have improved management systems, maintenance and redundancy.

However, do we feel confident that the industry as a whole has truly optimized the process of developing greater resilience? If we look at development and innovation techniques in software, pharmaceuticals, and other cutting-edge industries, we will see that they are increasingly using 1) open-source development and 2) continuous learning.

We therefore propose a publicly available, national registry of energy infrastructure projects. Rather than being a 'big' data project, this is in fact a 'clear' data project. If we have standards for reporting and describing infrastructure projects, we'll have an opportunity to innovate and optimize our resiliency efforts.

This proposal addresses the first step in developing a national registry: developing standards for reporting on energy infrastructure projects. Project reporting standards would help:

1. Standardize classifications, terminology and taxonomy of industry development efforts;

2. Identify and communicate potentially complementary (or redundant) efforts;

3. Provide benchmarking and leading practice information that will benefit all infrastructure and infrastructure management projects in the industry.

We believe we have a stronger infrastructure than we did 10 years ago. However, every dollar spent on capital improvements and maintenance counts. And far more is at stake for our nation's economic recovery. We need confidence that our infrastructure will continue to support our demand far into the future, at any level of economic activity. Let's invest in a information sharing tool that allows the energy industry to be as innovative, open, and self-evaluating as possible. Our future depends upon it.

Submitted by thomp22000 8 months ago

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Comments (2)

  1. With petroleum reserves residing largely in the hands of countries at odds with our way of life, it is key to rethink our energy infrastructure. Already, some contend that we have already reached peak oil, and streamlining the mechanisms and systemic redundancies in our national energy industry will help keep costs down and promote efficiencies heretofore overlooked. Sounds like wise thinking. Policy makers would do well to adopt such ideas; our economic future and way of life depend on it.

    8 months ago
    0 Agreed
  2. thomp22000 Idea Submitter

    An update: this should not be confused with work that's already been done at http://www.smartgrid.gov/. The work there attempts to quantify, among other things, the results of investments made with 2009 ARRA funds. The smart grid work classified some of the types of investments in terms of infrastructure components and services.

    However, we are asking about the soundness of the approach, versus the attribution of performance. Smartgrid.gov presents outcomes in an inputs (investments) and outputs (performance statistics) format. This reflects outcome bias. Here, we are asking for analysis and depiction of complementary efforts and redundancies to evaluate the soundness of efforts. This is something that is inherently harder to define and visualize. However, it's the critical next step to proper evaluation of ARRA as well as all ongoing investments both public and private.

    8 months ago
    0 Agreed