About the Symposium
This year’s symposium explored how the public and private sector can and should respond to natural disasters that cause disruptions in the freight system. Speakers from both sectors discussed the potential for leveraging public-private partnerships and presented details from several recent large-scale natural disasters to provide insights on response, recovery, and resiliency.
In his keynote presentation, Jeffrey Dorko, assistant administrator for logistics at the FEMA Office of Response and Recovery, explained that the private-public relationship in disaster response still is being worked out. “America has great, almost limitless capacity to take care of citizens who just had their worst day,” he said, “but we’ve got to get what we need from where it is to where it needs to be.”
The private-sector freight industry could increase the speed and efficiency of disaster relief, in terms of shipping capacity as well as planning and logistics. But efficiency needs to be balanced with fairness to avoid disasters being used as a means for profit. Speakers from the public and private sectors discussed both sides of the issue.
When disaster strikes, effective communication and planning systems are as essential as speedy response. Presenters used Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as an example of what happens when these systems break down. They also discussed what problems still exist in the freight industry and how to fix them.
Extreme weather patterns as a result of climate change are a major concern for transportation agencies, and infrastructure changes are needed to ensure the system can handle increased stress. Presenters examined some of the setbacks currently facing infrastructure resilience in the United States as well as some promising initiatives led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the federal government.
In our digital world, GPS, traffic cameras, and other technology are making it increasingly easy to track and model traffic flow. Sharing this data has become key to effective disaster relief. Presenters discussed potential sources and applications of data and how issues with privacy and proprietary information might be addressed.
Keynote: Replacing and Restoring Capacity in Disaster Supply Chains
- Jeffrey Dorko, Assistant Administrator for Logistics, Office of Response and Recovery, Federal Emergency Management Agency (PDF)
Panel: Infrastructure Resiliency
Moderator: Elizabeth Ogard, Prime Focus LLC
- Emily Richards, Onsite Key Account Manager for Lowe’s, C.H. Robinson
- Jeffrey Meek, Sustainability Coordinator, MnDOT Office of Sustainability and Public Health (PDF)
- Dan Murray, Senior Vice President, American Transportation Research Institute (PDF)
- Mark Berndt, Freight Planning Practice Leader, Quetica LLC (PDF)
Presentation: Response and Recovery Efforts Post-Hurricane Katrina
Presentations: MnDOT Disaster Response and Resiliency
- John Cavanaugh, Training and Development Specialist, District 1, MnDOT (PDF)
- John McClellan, Freeway Operations Supervisor, MnDOT (PDF)
This symposium is sponsored by the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota, in cooperation with: