During September, I attended several conferences with a lot of good information. The University of Texas at Arlington hosted the Transmission & Substations Design and Operation Symposium, and the Utilities Telecommunications Council (UTC) hosted both the Critical Infrastructure Policy Summit and the Cybersecurity Workshop in Washington, D.C.
All three events addressed changes to one of America’s most critical infrastructure elements: the cost-effective and reliable delivery of electric power.
So why is the electric power grid defined as critical infrastructure? First, we need to understand what critical infrastructure is. According to the Department of Homeland Security, critical infrastructure is:
“…the backbone of our nation’s economy, security and health. We know it as the power we use in our homes, the water we drink, the transportation that moves us, and the communication systems we rely on to stay in touch with friends and family. Critical infrastructure are the assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”
Like we have discussed in previous blogs posts, the convergence of technology is rapidly changing the delivery of critical infrastructure services. During the TSDOS symposium, we reviewed how renewables are changing the operations of the power grid, as well as methods being adopted to ensure the quality and reliability of the power grid.
As part of the agenda at the Critical Infrastructure Policy Summit, we highlighted policies related to sharing of information and infrastructure to improve the cost-effective delivery and restoration of power.
The UTC procurement workshop covered the impact of physical and software security not only on operations, but also the importance of implementing cybersecurity processes during the procurement and implementation of critical infrastructure.
I will explore these and other related topics that were part of the sessions as part of a four-part series, Reinventing Critical Infrastructure:
- Part 1 – Real World Power Grid Challenges
Transformation from a limited-generation power system to a multi-generation network
- Part 2 – Convergence of Communications
Being able to network a board range of data collection systems
- Part 3 – Security
The importance of protection systems for physical security and cybersecurity
- Part 4 – Compliance to Standards
The flexibility to leverage technology to reduce the cost of system upgrades
My goal is to show how we can pull each of these elements together as we reinvent the delivery of critical infrastructure services.