The 2015 Katherine B. Snow Research Award was awarded to A Resiliency Assessment of Critical Telecommunication Infrastructure by FEMA Region: Empirical Metrics and Trends, by Andrew P Snow, Gary R Weckman, Naga T Gollamudi, John C Hoag, and William A Young. All authors are at Ohio University. The abstract of the winning paper:
This paper investigates the resiliency of wireline telecommunication switch outages in the US Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) over a 14-year period, by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) region. Over this time interval, there were almost 9,000 local switch outages due to failures reported by telecommunication carriers to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Regional comparisons are first made using classic time-series-of-event reliability techniques. Such techniques allow reliability trend comparisons between regions. Next, causal comparisons are derived and analyzed for differences on a regional basis. Then, to compare resiliency, a resiliency metric is developed that allows a fair comparison between regions differing in population. One finding is that two FEMA regions have contributed to overall reliability deterioration in local switches in the U.S. over the last 3-years of the study period. Another finding is that external circumstances are the reason for differences in switch outage causes across regions, and that these causes likely impact other critical telecommunications sector infrastructure in central offices such as mobile and internet sectors. Marked differences in resiliency trends are apparent in some FEMA regions. Lastly, the importance of empirical assessments in assessing resiliency are discussed, highlighting the importance of assessing resilience in the context of reliability (the arrival rate of outages).