Homeland Security Today published an article recently on the FCC’s examination of wireless network issues post Hurricane Sandy. While the article speaks mostly on the need to bolster the wireless telecom infrastructure, it does mention the obvious dependencies that wireless has on our energy infrastructure. These types of dependencies can be seen throughout all our critical infrastructure, linking them intimately, and demonstrating how fragile we really are without proper preparedness efforts and redundancies. The illustration below outlines eight (of eighteen) of our critical infrastructure sectors: Fuel, Communications, Water, Banking, Electric Power, Transportation, Emergency Services, and Government Services. I take no credit for the graphic, which was simply found on Google Images, but it is a great example depicting a number of the linkages (i.e. dependencies) that each of these sectors has on one another. Like dominos, multiple sectors can be made to topple by exploiting vulnerabilities in one or more of them. We’re not just talking about terrorism here, although preventing the intentional interference with critical infrastructure is obviously a major concern, but we’re also looking at natural hazards.
We’ve seen from real life on multiple occasions what damages to our infrastructure can cause. Our electrical infrastructure is perhaps the most fragile, but is also the one linked to every other sector – no wonder there is so much attention paid to preparedness and mitigation efforts to make this sector more resilient. The above graphic shows, not accidentally, the electrical sector being in the middle of all others.
There has been further attention brought to the matter recently by the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center (NICC). In this article by Homeland Security Today, it was announced that the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center will be hiring contractor support as a force multiplier in their monitoring activities. Last week FEMA just released IS-913, their Independent Study course on Critical Infrastructure Protection: Achieving Results Through Partnership & Collaboration. This course compliments other critical infrastructure protection-oriented training programs of FEMA’s. FEMA Independent Study courses are free and open to all US citizens. I would strongly encourage that you explore what they have to offer if you haven’t already.
Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) is an important topic spanning all of emergency management and homeland security. Additional information on CIP can be found from the DHS CIP website and other sources.