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Criticality assessment for a regional maritime economy

R. Michael Robinson, PhD, Barry Ezell, PhD


Objective: To identify and assess the criticality for infrastructure assets and better understand their dependencies, interdependencies, and supply chain reliance.

Design: This study used a modified mission impact, symbolism, history, accessibility, recognizability, population, and proximity model combined with a deliberative process with regional subject matter experts.

Setting: Hampton roads Virginia maritime area.

Participants: Emergency managers, US Corps of Engineers, US Coast Guard, law enforcement, railroad industry, intelligence community, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Transportation, and Virginia Port.

Main outcome: A prioritized list of one-to-n critical assets in the maritime area and identification of up and downstream dependencies.

Results: The final most highly critical grouping included 26 out of 277 assets including especially important road bridges and tunnels, rail bridges and choke points, shipping channels, and marine terminals.

Conclusions: Subject matter experts identified 277 critical infrastructure assets in the Hampton Roads Maritime Area (HRMA). From these, 26 assets that were deemed to be significantly more critical than others. From this reduced list, 12 were further assessed to be most important. The selection process provided significant support to those responsible for providing protection, mitigating potential damage, and planning recovery and allows informed, objective expenditures of limited funding. Additional key findings include the following:

Proximity, or the potential for an asset that has been damaged or destroyed to cause direct harm to adjacent assets in the surrounding community, drives criticality in the HRMA more than any other factor in the model.

A small group of 26 out of 277 assets exerts an outsized impact in the HRMA—nearly 20 percent of criticality—due to the potential consequences associated with their destruction or disruption.

Road transportation, particularly tunnels, represents the primary dependency among critical assets. Major road and maritime transportation assets rely heavily on federal and state organizations to maintain their function.

Supply chain: The critical asset group supports or supplies many missions and industries both nationally and internationally, including defense, manufacturing, commercial enterprise, and the movement of raw commodities.


criticality assessment, MSHARPP model, multiattribute model

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