Understanding a System of Systems

When planning a resilient communications system for a healthcare organization it is important to understand your communication system as part of a larger system of systems.  Your communication system is dependent upon many systems; power, cooling, data networks, and outside communications networks.  Equally important is to understand that your communications system is also a key part of many of these systems.

The diagram below demonstrates how Communications and IT systems are a key part of a much larger system, but also dependent on many parts of this same super system.  While you may not immediately think about how fuel supplies are a part of your communications system during an emergency your system may depend upon a generator.  This generator depends upon a reliable supply of fuel, and the companies that supply this fuel rely upon a working transportation system to deliver this fuel.

While you may not be directly in charge of the power generation system you should understand how your Facilities Team will handle power and generators during an emergency.  See the Additional Resources section below for more information on power systems in the healthcare environment.

Figure from “Incorporating Prioritization in Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Programs”



Additional Resources

Incorporating Prioritization in Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Programs
By Verner, Duane, Frederic Petit, and Kibaek Kim.
Homeland Security Affairs 13, Article 7 (October 2017).


This document developed by FEMA and ASPR provides guidance and resources on improving healthcare facility resilience to power outages. Information includes:

•Healthcare facility preparedness standards and challenges;
•Ways to integrate emergency preparedness efforts throughout the whole community; and
•Methods for prioritizing assistance to hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities during power outages.

CISA prepared factsheet highlighting best practices for power system planning.
Report prepared by the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and FEMA Region X.
A number of high-impact threats to critical infrastructure can result in a regional months-long power outage, making it unlikely for timely outside help to arrive. Hospitals are encouraged to gain the capacity to make and store enough power on-site to operate in island mode indefinitely without outside sources of power or fuel and protect on-site capabilities from threats that could impact regional commercial power systems. This handbook outlines challenges and opportunities to solve these problems so hospitals, healthcare facilities, and other resources might become more resilient.