The public services network determines the existence, structure, quality, and transformability of the territories. That is, network services create conditions to community’s resilience. Any node in the settlement structure increases or strengthens its livability and attractiveness through the accessibility to essential (guarantee the minimum of living conditions) and qualified (stimulate progress opportunities) services.
The growing need of assessing efficiency in the management of public service systems led European policies to (partial or totally) integrate that concern into competitive markets. In this context, Services of General Interest (SeIG) play a central role as the main instrument towards the implementation of the European social model. Through the SeIG, public entities can mitigate the risks of the market failures, avoiding situations where the communities’ resilience capacity could collapse.
In Portugal, the contrasts between metropolitan, urban (mid-sized cities) and rural regions are associated with different levels of accessibility to SeIG and with the resulting cohesion patterns. Along the post-disaster catastrophe of the wildfires in 2017, part of the SeIG systems in the rural areas of the Portuguese Center Region (civil protection, water, electricity, telecommunications, radio and television, housing, road network, transport, health), collapsed or were subjected to high levels of stress.
This article is organized around the following objectives: i) to reorganize the resilience theoretical framework in order to incorporate the importance of the SeIG to minimize the vulnerability of the dispersed settlement structures with low densities (connectivity and accessibility); and ii) to apply this theoretical framework within a concrete situation of crisis/catastrophe. In the second phase, using content analysis methodologies, we will analyze the news stream about this disruptive phenomenon to evaluate, iii) the performance of the governance system managing the SeIG networks and, vi) how this contributed, or not, to increase the resilience (persistence, adaptability, transformability) of this territories.