Machinery Behind The Scenes Of Big COVID-19 Announcements

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Big Infrastructure Action

NCAA cancelled in-person attendance at the March Madness tournament today. This post is a super quick look at how some post-9/11 work is going to help us make this pandemic less bad. The heart behind that is economic resilience. It's going to be one of our greatest challenges going forward.

There will be other gigantic large-scale sporting and other event cancellations. NASCAR. Baseball. Probably football this fall.

One thing that happened after 9/11 is that we designated critical infrastructure sectors as giant frameworks for public-private-partnerships to facilitate information sharing, coordination, resilience, preparedness, security, and so on. There are about 16 sectors. Some have sub-sectors. For example, the transportation sector includes sub-sectors for highways, rail, air, and pipelines.

Commercial facilities is an enormous sector all by itself. It has sub-sectors as well. For example, one sub-sector is real estate, like the companies who own many of the high-rises in urban areas.

Another commercial facilities sub-sector covers arenas.

Each sector has a government coordinating council for interagency coordination on the government side, and a private sector coordinating council that is an alliance of each of its partners and sub-sector components. Both sector councils meet up every so often. There's an overall framework/council as well for all of the 16 sector councils to coordinate through.

A couple other elements exist. Some of the sectors have information sharing and analysis centers (ISACs) for moving intelligence and threat information. All of the sectors plug into the NCCIC, a clearinghouse tied to the government cyber world called the National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center. The partnership vehicle via the NCCIC provides a legal framework for sharing government intelligence about cybersecurity and vulnerabilities - and for moving information quickly received from the private sector about emerging threats. The overall "Sector Partnership Model" also allows for some within the sector on the private sector side to acquire a low-level security clearance for moving certain threat information out to the sector.

There are staff and functions within the Department of Homeland Security and other federal departments and agencies that tie to each sector to support these public-private partnerships. There is research; there are exercises; there is preparedness. Activities cover the range of national planning frameworks for prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and disaster recovery.

Economic Resilience

What is going on here exactly?

It's easy to look at this and get nervous. Especially given the current Administration and their propensity for corruption.

Taking a step way, way back to the founding of this country and its early years... one of the things government was designed to do is to facilitate commerce.

It's one of the benefits and purposes of government that Democrats as a party don't do a good job of talking about AT ALL. There's a messaging opportunity here for that. That's a sidebar though - not the main point.

Very many things in the US government structure are designed to facilitate commerce and a strong economy. After 9/11, the US government made a very deliberate decision to strengthen the country's critical infrastructure through this framework. But also to strengthen economic resilience. This giant infrastructure framework is a huge vehicle to help facilitate, build, and expand economic resilience.

Terrorists seek to destroy economies with terrorism. Pure fear.

A pandemic poses a deeper, wider threat than terrorism ever could.

Years and years of exercises and preparation have done some good.

These gigantic business organizations like the NCAA have been a part of these discussions.

The closure/cancellation decisions coming out over the last few days are well-grounded. They're well considered. This is what happens when you partner effectively with the private sector. When you deliberately set out to create economic resilience.

These public-private-partnerships and the years of preparedness work they have fostered are going to end up doing more to mitigate virus spread than the Trump Administration - especially because the complete failure to make widespread testing available is making it extremely difficult to identify where spread is even occurring in the first place. Thus the need for closures/cancellations.

These are businesses leading. Lots of people might not consider that this is corporate responsibility. Or maybe they would not have - before a pandemic. Some of these businesses have been working behind the scenes since DHS was set up in 2003. Some have been involved since well before that.

This is a long game. They know it.

And this is why I'm a moderate. Which isn't relevant to this post, but is one of the reasons I get frustrated at Democratic party venting against corporations. I've seen this incredible resilience work going on behind the scenes for years. I've been in meetings and exercises where we've been over worst-case scenarios like this.

Businesses can do good in the world.

Plus, their operations and bottom line in the long-term are going to go better overall if this thing is less bad. Everything we can do to make it less bad now will help.


Economic resilience is going to be a huge piece of charting paths forward.

Big vision matters. Preparedness matters. Strategy matters.

Let's make some shift happen.

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