Resilient information infrastructures: Criticality and role in responding to catastrophic incidents

Hans Jochen Scholl, Beth Joy Patin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose: Disasters of catastrophic scope and scale have occurred more frequently in recent years. Governmental and non-governmental response management has struggled, and affected communities have severely suffered during extreme events. Colossal damage and loss of lives have been inflicted, and the recovery efforts require extended periods of time. In post hoc analyses, actionable information has been found a critical resource requiring resilient information infrastructures (RIIs) that do not break down even under extreme duress. RIIs encompass both tangible and less tangible (for example, social) elements. The purpose of this paper is to pave the way for empirical research on the subject and to conceptually develop a framework for the analysis of information infrastructures and their resiliency, when impacted by catastrophic incidents (also known as extreme events). Design/methodology/approach: The authors review the literatures of disaster research and related fields. They synthesize the literatures from the information perspective and develop a framework of RII. Findings: The synthesis revealed that extreme event-ready RIIs have to be redundant and resourceful both in terms of social, organizational, and knowledge assets as well as in the information and communication technologies. RIIs combine tangible and non-tangible elements, whose interplay is so far incompletely understood. Research limitations/implications: Roles and criticality of RIIs under the impact of an extreme event need to be studied empirically. Practical implications: The study holds the promise to be of great potential utility for responders and recovery managers as well as affected communities in preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts as timely and actionable information is still the scarcest and most sought resource during a catastrophic incident. Originality/value: Disaster research so far has mostly focused on the technical, organizational, social, and socio-psychological effects of disasters. The authors are adding the information perspective as a unique and distinctive contribution to extreme event research, which connects the tangible elements of information infrastructures with its not so tangible elements, captures their interplay, and analyzes their role and criticality for the resiliency of the information infrastructures when under extreme duress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-48
Number of pages21
JournalTransforming Government: People, Process and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Catastrophic incidents
  • Electronic government
  • Extreme events
  • Information infrastructures
  • Resilience
  • Tangible and intangible elements of information infrastructures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems and Management


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