Tuesday afternoon Mayor Bloomberg unveiled New York’s multi-year strategy and plan to recover from Hurricane Sandy and be better prepared for the next — potentially worse — climate-related event.
You can read the complete document here: A Stronger More Resilient New York.
I found the press release from the Mayor’s office an informative quick read. You can see the press release here: Mayor Proposes How to Protect City from Climate Change.
It strikes me as an entirely reasonable mainstream effort. It is a mix of several different strategies customized to particular sectors, specific geographies, and — I’m guessing — what it is perceived most citizens are willing to accept.
It is “just” a plan. Funding, sequencing, and execution of individual pieces will determine what is really achieved. If you’re a resilience nerd (like me) you’ll probably find it lacking imagination. But if you’re in favor of “git’ur done” recovery, you’ll probably see it as a whole series of non-market-based complications. There are surely some New York property developers who see a whole host of new opportunities, and maybe that’s the implicit answer to my critiques below.
The report is organized (mostly) by threat, sector, and geography. There is a section on community preparedness, but it is probably the weakest in the entire document. The report is further evidence that governments are willing to build stuff and regulate more stuff. But there is very little attention to politics: the purposeful practice of living together in a city.
(I can just hear my NY buddies laughing that there is not enough politics in something Mayor Bloomberg is pushing. But this report — and the news conference at which it was released — sounds/reads more like a systems engineering study than anything involving people.)
This political anemia may contribute to my second impression: Significant elements of the plan depend on working with private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, but I don’t see anything outlined to suggest how this shared public-private responsibility will be effectively advanced.
I recommend reading the Utilities section. This is especially well written systems engineering. When you come to the “Initiatives for Increasing Resiliency in Utilities”, notice the how involves private-public collaboration and creativity. But there is no rhetorical or systemic case made for why tomorrow will be different than the day before Sandy hit in regards to these crucial relationships. I have been involved in private-public dialogue related to electric power. It can be tough even when everyone is operating in good faith.
I assume it’s just a digital glitch. But on Wednesday when I was reviewing the plan the Telecommunications section was missing… just as wireless was “missing” across large areas during much of Sandy. The wireless communications industry is currently expending significant resources to resist new efforts at government regulation. This has seriously complicated private-public collaboration on emergency preparedness involving the wireless sector. I would love to read that Mayor Bloomberg — with his personal background in the private sector working in an area closely related to telecommunications — has cracked the code for engaging the telecom companies. For the moment, I find the report’s missing piece richly ironic.
In any case, at least read the news release.