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Critical Infrastructure, Interdependencies, and Resilience

Updated August 9, 2022

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Critical Infrastructure, Interdependencies, and Resilience essay

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The title itself defines the present worry and has provided resilience and elasticity but has also led to some ambiguities about which assets are critical and which criteria should be used to define them. Also, the expansion of critical-infrastructure sectors has added obstacles to an already difficult sector. For advancing the basics that regulate the performance and making clear the interactions, it is easier to unite our thinking into consolidating the concepts. The critical infrastructure concept is evolving. ‘Since the 1980’s the confederation of aging public works led the National Council on Public Works Improvement (1988) to focus on infrastructures in the public sector, such as highways, roads, bridges, airports, public transit, water supply facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, and solid-waste and hazardous-waste services. In the 1990s, as a result of increased international terrorism, infrastructure was redefined in terms of national security.

After 9/11, the number of “critical” infrastructure sectors and key assets listed in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan was expanded to 17 (DHS, 2006). The list includes agriculture and food systems, the defense-industrial base, energy systems, public health and health care facilities, national monuments and icons, banking and finance systems, drinking water systems, chemical facilities, commercial facilities, dams, emergency services, nuclear power systems, information technology systems, telecommunications systems, postal and shipping services, transportation systems, and government facilities.’ (T.D. O’Rourke, 2007). As a way of overcoming the threats of aging infrastructures, a concept namely “lifeline system” was created to monitor the performance of massive geographically divided networks during natural calamities such as hurricanes, earthquakes, etc., and also the externals threats like terrorist attacks.

‘Lifelines are grouped into six principal systems: electric power, gas, and liquid fuels, telecommunications, transportation, waste disposal, and water supply.’ (T.D. O’Rourke, 2007). Separately or taken together, all of these systems are soully connected with the social and economic well-being and security of the environment they avail. At corner of Wall Street and Williams Street in New York City in 1917 the congestion has not been improved in the last 90 years, and similar locations can be found in a multitude of cities worldwide. Critical systems in crowded urban and suburban areas like these are subject to increased risk from proximity. Damage to one infrastructural component, such as a cast-iron water main, can rapidly cascade into damage to surrounding components, such as electric and telecommunications cables and gas mains, with system-wide consequences.

What makes things difficult is most of the infrastructures are underground which makes the condition and quality of the components unclear. ‘The proximity of aging, weakened pipelines to other important facilities, such as high-pressure gas mains and electric power substations, is frequently not recognized, increasing the potential for unanticipated accidents for which no preparations have been made.’ (T.D. O’Rourke, 2007). All of the critical components of infrastructure influence one another. For example, ‘Electric power networks, for example, provide energy for pumping stations, storage facilities, and equipment control for transmission and distribution systems for oil and natural gas. Oil provides fuel and lubricants for generators, and natural gas provides energy for generating stations, compressors, and storage, all of which are necessary for the operation of electric power networks.'(T.D. O’Rourke, 2007). This cycle goes on for all the components as well.

Then comes the factor Resilience, Resilience is defined as “the ability to bounce or spring back into shape, position, etc., after being pressed or stretched.” The concept of resilience is evolving similar to the concept of critical infrastructure. ‘Developing resilient communities with appropriate critical infrastructure requires awareness through education and risk communication, strong, innovative leadership, effective planning, and the long-term commitment of resources to put complex systems into place. At first glance, these requirements do not appear to be directly associated with engineering and technology. However, all of them must be informed by accurate, up-to-date science, technology, and information made possible by partnerships and networks among communities, governments, and scientists and engineers.'( T.D. O’Rourke, 2007).

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Critical Infrastructure, Interdependencies, and Resilience. (2022, Aug 09). Retrieved from