How secure is our critical infrastructure against the events and conditions it encounters every day? Over the past year, we’ve been exploring how the U.S. systems operate and the increasing dependency we all have on the services provided through these systems. With the new year, we want to continue discussing these issues, but also how to address potential risks using asset management services to update and prioritize risk mitigation plans.
Risk management strategy is one of those elements that needs attention as technology advances and new threats are identified. This means updating and integrating any strategy changes with existing processes and procedures. At the same time, we need to bring together all providers of critical infrastructure services and support industries.
Here’s where we need to develop a new generation of leaders to provide consultant, engineering and monitoring services for our critical facilities. These services are becoming increasingly important to detect and protect against cascading failures due to:
- Natural disasters
- Equipment failures due to wear, stress, age or abuse
- Physical and cyber attacks
Benefits of asset management
From reduced operating costs and targeted capital expenditures, to increased operational reliability and outage prevention, asset management makes our systems more responsive. When we integrate remediation and monitoring systems, we not only can identify where an outage is occurring, but the most likely cause. Then we can decide on the best response options.
Consider the cost to recover from a bridge collapse, a power line failure or a fiber optic communications outage. Combining inspections with a remediation process, monitoring systems, and in-place redundancies=, we can maintain continuous operations for critical systems. This is important as our increasing dependency on these systems is pushing requirements well beyond what was considered sci-fi just a few decades ago.
As we do more converged use of non-disruptive, non-destructive and passive technologies, we need to integrate multiple ways of determining threats and the level of those threats. That means being able to integrate motion and sound detectors, video monitors, and multiple types of digital sensors. We also need to decide on the best way to install these systems as we now have multiple options using fixed and mobile devices, including drones.
So where are we going? We need to address a broad range of network solutions within our infrastructure to build platforms that are easy to upgrade. This means using existing and new infrastructure engineering design tools and real-time lab testing that lets us deploy solutions much faster.
With an integrated asset management process, priorities can be set that meet budget and performance objectives. This ensures the program, project manager and stakeholders are all on the same page regarding projects, and that updates are identified and updated as required.
As we wrap up 2014 and move ahead into 2015, what is your critical infrastructure industry leadership role going to be?