What is your Critical Infrastructure List? My critical what list?! Yes, you heard me correctly, what is your critical infrastructure list? This is a list of locations, events, structures, and services that could be vulnerable to natural disasters or intentional targeted events. Those critical things you just can't do without...and doing without them would cripple your ability to carry out your mission. Brainstorming this list will help you in your personnel get to know your community a little better and start your planning process in the right direction.
Here is my sample list of critical infrastructure… these two are just for starters...those items that I consider essential locations or services that must be maintained and/or hardened. By the way, these are the two critical infrastructure systems that many feel are the most vulnerable...just say'n.
Telecommunications are one of the most vital systems we have available to us. These systems allow us to get messages to our public and each other. Telecommunications networks also are critical pieces of infrastructure in industry and commerce as well as our ability to operate our emergency operation centers. We've become so accustomed to instant communication in the use of satellite and Internet features to add functionality to our processes that the loss of this technology will make it difficult for us to operate efficiently. Secondary communication systems easily fall out of use and out of date… many secondary communication systems I've seen recently are in dire need of repair. Failure of telecommunications networks from natural disasters or intentional targeted attacks will make it difficult for the event to be managed successfully. Therefore, telecommunications networks lead the list of critical infrastructure you should be planning to protect. It's important for every planner in every agency leader to understand the strengths and vulnerabilities of their local telecommunications network and backup systems. It is equally important for agency leaders and planners to understand the eventuality of telecommunications failures and have the communications plan “B.”
2. Electrical Power.I've talked about the potential impact of a power grid failure in prior posts and on Mitigation Journal podcast (listen to edition 173 here). I mean what I say. Our nation's power grid remains extremely vulnerable to natural disasters and intentional targeted attacks. Our current system of power distribution has no means for saving or storing energy. Also, because the electrical system operates at or near capacity most of the time, a failure in one location or plant may easily result in a cascade of failures throughout the grid. The effects of those failures will be felt almost immediately and manifest as brownouts or blackouts. The ripple effect from these events is insidious… with impact on other critical infrastructure sites such as hospitals. The failure of our electrical power grid even for short periods of time will place increased demands on local responders. The ripple effect will continue through the community as civilians deploy alternate heating and power sources such as generators. While many of us are used to having the power go out from time to time, it is difficult for us to conceive going without electricity for weeks, months, or perhaps longer.
This list goes on...and we'll have more to say. In the meantime, I'd like to hear from you. Comment here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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