Preparing for Disaster

Issue Date: 
October 22, 2007

Pitt, other universities co-organize Regional Energy Infrastructure Conference

How long will it take to restore essential services after a disaster event? What happens if major portions of the health care and public health infrastructures are disabled? Who is responsible for restoring power?

The University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia University (WVU), and Carnegie Mellon University—in association with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory—are co-organizing a Regional Energy Critical Infrastructure Resiliency Conference to address these and other questions Oct. 29-31 at the Holiday Inn Select Pittsburgh at University Center.

Keynote speakers will be Jenny Menna, director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Cyber Security Division; James Powers, director of the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security; and Robert Reed, regional coordinator of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Region III Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration.

Participants include the National Research Center for Coal and Energy and the Advanced Power Engineering Research Center, both at WVU, as well as the Pittsburgh Regional Business Coalition, the Allegheny Conference, Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s John P. Murtha Institute for Homeland Security, and the Region 13 Counter Terrorism Task Force.

Participants will explore issues in regional coordination for critical infrastructure resiliency and protection.

The program features a tabletop exercise in failure of interdependent infrastructures and presentations by knowledgeable representatives of agencies and organizations with responsibility for critical infrastructure resiliency.

The tabletop exercise, modeled on similar exercises conducted in New York City and Silicon Valley, will be led by a team from Verizon Business with expertise in cybersecurity and business telecommunications.

Additionally, information will be presented on disaster recovery and restoration operations, as well as a working session on lessons learned and next steps for improving regional collaboration for resilient infrastructures.

“Attendees at the conference will have the opportunity to participate in an exercise led by emergency experts that simulates a mock emergency,” explained Ken Sochats, a Pitt assistant professor, codirector of the Center for National Preparedness, and director of the Visual Information Systems Center. “Participants will be able to take the lessons learned from the exercise—as well as information from state, federal, and local emergency leaders—back to their organizations, where they can be translated into plans and policies.”

Professionals in industry and government from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Kentucky are invited to register for the conference and participate in the exercise and conference discussions.

To register or for more information, visit the University of Pittsburgh Center for National Preparedness Web site: