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Resilient Systems Working Group

The purpose of the Resilient Systems Working Group is to use systems engineering principles to enhance the resilience of systems to reduce the likelihood of and to recover from disasters. Resilience is the ability of organizational, hardware and software systems to mitigate the severity and likelihood of failures or losses, to adapt to changing conditions, and to respond appropriately after the fact. The study of system resilience includes the creation of a robust infrastructure that designs, builds, tests, maintains, and operates the system. The scope is larger than design, reliability, human factors or system safety. It is an infrastructure wide topic to include customers, developers, suppliers, and all other stakeholders. System resilience has a large interest in cultural, sociological and psychological causes of human-made disasters. Hence, it is truly multidisciplinary.

Chair: Scott Jackson, University of Southern California
Co-Chair: Katri Hakola, Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems

Contact Resilient Systems Working Group for additional information or to join this group.

Accomplishments and Products

A working definition for resilience (of a system) developed by the RSWG is as follows: “Resilience is the capability of a system with specific characteristics before, during and after a disruption to absorb the disruption, recover to an acceptable level of performance, and sustain that level for an acceptable period of time.“ The following words were clarified:

  • The term capability is preferred over capacity since capacity has a specific meaning in the design principles.

  • The term system is limited to human-made systems containing software, hardware, humans, concepts, and processes. Infrastructures are also systems.

  • The term sustain allows determination of long-term performance to be stated.

  • Characteristics can be static features, such as redundancy, or dynamic features, such as corrective action to be specified.

  • Before, during and after – Allows the three phases of disruption to be considered.

    1. Before – Allows anticipation and corrective action to be considered
    2. During – How the system survives the impact of the disruption
    3. After – How the system recovers from the disruption

  • Disruption is the initiating event of a reduction is performance. A disruption may be either a sudden or sustained event. A disruption may either be internal (human or software error) or external (earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, or terrorist attack).


The Resilient Systems Working Group is a node in the international Resilience Engineering Network. The group also has a relationship with the Robust Systems Working Group of the Association Française d’Ingénierie Système (AFIS), the French equivalent of INCOSE.

The URL for the Resilience Engineering Network is: The Proceedings for the Second Symposium on Resilience Engineering in November of 2006 in Juan-les-Pins, France can be found on this site.

The book Architecting Resilient Systems: Accident Avoidance and Survival and Recovery from Disruptions can be ordered from John Wiley and Sons or from The Wiley URL is

The book Resilience Engineering: Concepts and Precepts can be ordered from Ashgate Publishing Limited from the following site:

Current Projects

The primary activity of the RSWG is to support The Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP) ( in the development of a Regional Resilience Guide. The RSWG project leader is Dick Emerson ( TISP is a consortium of government agencies, universities, private businesses, and professional societies, such as INCOSE, dedicated to find ways to make the civil infrastructure resilient to disruptions, such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

The Annotated Bibliography previoiusly developed by the RSWG will be incorporated into the Guide.

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Content Owner: Resilient Systems Working Group | Last Updated: 20 May 20a0
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