The Realm of More or Less: Critical Infrastructure and Public Order Factors for Pandemic Strategy


  • William McAuley, Ph.D. Provincial Security & Intelligence Office, Alberta


The critical infrastructure and public order dimensions of pandemic response provide subplots to the ends-ways-means calculations made by Alberta’s policymakers to supress and mitigate COVID-19. Commencing from a strategic studies perspective, key drivers of pandemic decision making that encroaching on the security sphere are explored. Security realm considerations are found to be interwoven three broad undertones, précised as a preappointed evidence problem, a Cynefin circumstance, and a collective-to-individual cognitive arc. Rather than being a report card on pandemic response strategies, sensitivity to the range and complexity of factors that decision-makers were forced to contend with is projected towards the discovery of some strategic principles of pandemic response. Paramount among these is an appreciation for understanding as being something beyond mere situational awareness. This is recognition of a particular knowledge and application problem that parallels military strategic theory and is heavily reliant on insight and foresight as foundations for complex decision making. Potential areas of focus for further strategic studies inquiry are presented, with a view to addressing indicators of concern relevant to longer-term pandemic recovery.

Author Biography

William McAuley, Ph.D., Provincial Security & Intelligence Office, Alberta

Dr. Bill McAuley is a Director with Alberta’s Provincial Security & Intelligence Office (PSIO). A Canadian Armed Forces veteran who participated in multiple overseas deployments, Bill is a Member of the Order of Military Merit and holds a Ph.D. in strategic studies from the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies.