Governments around the world have a different approach in defining critical infrastructure. The United State Critical infrastructure Protection Program was put in place in 1996, but efforts to identify and protect our critical infrastructure started well prior to that. Following 9/11, the U.S. formally defined critical infrastructure as:
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.
If you ask most Americans to define critical infrastructure, they would likely only be able to identify a few. I have been in the critical infrastructure industry for more 30 years, but my friends and family still struggle to understand what that means to them.
In February 2013, President Obama issued a Presidential Policy Directive – Critical infrastructure Security and Resilience. This further expanded the commitment to protect critical infrastructure and identified critical infrastructure sectors.
When you consider the combined positive impact to our quality of life of the critical infrastructure sectors listed in the graphic, we shouldn’t be surprised at the potential risk related to maintenance, weather or disasters. Engineering and consulting firms see firsthand the effects of the convergence of technology and the interrelationship between critical infrastructure sectors. For example, consider the importance of restoring electricity, water, gas, and public safety and emergency services following a natural disaster like a tornado, hurricane, ice storm or earthquake.
During 2014, we explored critical infrastructure from multiple perspectives. In 2015, I will be expanding those perspectives with input from multiple industry sources. In addition, we will engage in a discussion about the interdependence of multiple sectors, along with the role leadership has in developing the vision for the next generation of services as we build on past advancements.
In summary, I believe that we can all agree that the critical infrastructure sectors are extremely important and we that are engaged in any or multiple sectors have a role in the quality of life of all Americans by improving the quality of the services we deliver.