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INL Resilience Optimization Center Director Ron Fisher said he expects the center will do a lot of work with the federal government, particularly agencies such as the departments of Homeland Security, Energy and Defense.

Idaho National Laboratory has launched a new effort to help government entities prepare for both natural disasters and human-caused incidents such as cyberattacks.

The INL Resilience Optimization Center, or IROC, “draws from INL’s extensive track record as a world leader in critical infrastructure systems analysis and security, as well as its unique, large-scale test ranges,” a lab news release said.

“Our national defense, economic prosperity and quality of life have long depended on critical infrastructures such as energy, water, transportation and telecommunications,” IROC Director Ron Fisher said in the release. “The rapid proliferation of telecommunications and computer systems all connected to each other has created new dimensions of vulnerability and risk to every organization. INL has been focusing on this in unique ways for a long time, and the IROC is INL’s commitment to offer resilience solutions to the nation.”

The center will help formulate plans to make critical infrastructure more resilient, working with owners and operators to determine their ability to withstand threats and then return to normal operations if something happens. It will be able to “organize multidisciplinary teams and lab-wide lifeline-infrastructure capabilities that are scalable to any asset, system or network, regardless of function or geography,” the release said.

Fisher said he expects the center will do a lot of work with the federal government, particularly agencies such as the departments of Homeland Security, Energy and Defense. However, he said he also expects to partner with states and local governments as well as the private sector. Fisher said the center is in discussions with the state of Idaho about possible collaborations.

“Part of why we formed IROC is to better represent all our capabilities internally,” he said.

The center’s work, Fisher said, would include both preparing for disasters and helping respond to ones that have already occurred, although preparation would be a more central focus.

“We want to be more proactive and help on the prevention side of it,” Fisher said.

Fisher said the project would bring together people who work in different areas at INL, such as nuclear technology, engineering and cybersecurity experts.

“We want to take those lessons learned and apply them in other critical infrastructure,” he said. “It really is a multimission operation here, across all our directorates.”

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.

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