Critical Infrastructure Background
Critical infrastructure collectively refers to assets, systems, and networks that, if incapacitated, would have a substantial negative impact on national security, economic security, or public health and safety. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has identified 16 critical infrastructure sectors, each consisting of multiple sub-sectors, which provide security and safety services. The importance of resilience in these sectors and their sub-sectors is compounded by the interdependencies between them. For example, hospitals and nursing homes, which are significant components of the Public Health Sector, are dependent on the Chemical Sector for pharmaceuticals. The Chemical Sector is dependent on the Transportation Sector to move supplies and products. The Transportation Sector is dependent on the Energy Sector for fuel, and each of the 16 sectors is in some way dependent on the Energy Sector for electricity.
Many examples confirm these interdependencies among critical infrastructure sectors, which is why the resilience of the assets, systems, and functions in these sectors is so important. The DHS has developed sector-specific plans for assessing, analyzing, and managing risks in each of the 16 sectors. Resilience plans vary across the sectors and subsectors depending on their unique attributes and requirements.
The DHS critical infrastructure sectors are detailed below:
The chemicals sector converts various raw materials into more than 70,000 diverse products that are essential to modern life. Based on the end product produced, the sector can be divided into five main segments: basic chemicals, specialty chemicals, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and consumer products.
The Commercial Facilities Sector includes a diverse range of sites that draw large crowds of people for shopping, business, entertainment, or lodging. It consists of eight subsectors: entertainment and media, gaming, lodging, outdoor events, public assembly, real estate, retail, and sports leagues.
The Communications Sector is a diverse, competitive, and interconnected industry using terrestrial, satellite, and wireless transmission systems. The transmission of these services has become interconnected; satellite, wireless, and wireline providers depend on each other to carry and terminate their traffic and companies routinely share facilities and technology to ensure interoperability.
The Critical Manufacturing Sector consists of four subsectors: primary metals, machinery, electrical equipment, appliance and components, and transportation equipment. Products made by these manufacturing industries are essential to many other critical infrastructure sectors.
The Dams Sector delivers critical water retention and control services in the United States, including hydroelectric power generation, municipal and industrial water supplies, agricultural irrigation, sediment and flood control, river navigation for inland bulk shipping, industrial waste management, and recreation.
The Defense Industrial Base Sector is the worldwide industrial complex that enables research and development, as well as design, production, delivery, and maintenance of military weapons systems, subsystems, and components or parts, to meet U.S. military requirements.
The Emergency Services Sector includes geographically distributed facilities and equipment in both paid and volunteer capacities organized primarily at the federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels of government. The Emergency Services Sector is composed of five distinct disciplines: law enforcement, fire and rescue services, emergency medical services, emergency management, and public works.
The Energy Sector consists of infrastructure assets in electricity, oil, and natural gas. Virtually all industries and critical infrastructure assets rely on electric power and fuels for critical power and energy needs.
The Financial Services Sector includes thousands of depository institutions, providers of investment products, insurance companies, other credit and financing organizations, and the providers of the critical financial utilities and services that support these functions.
The Government Facilities Sector includes a wide variety of buildings, located in the United States and overseas, that are owned or leased by federal, state, local, and tribal governments. These facilities include general-use office buildings and special-use military installations, embassies, courthouses, national laboratories, and structures that may house critical equipment, systems, networks, and functions.
The Healthcare and Public Health Sector includes not only acute care hospitals and ambulatory healthcare, but also the vast and complex public-private systems that finance that care. It incorporates a large system of private sector enterprises that manufacture, distribute, and sell drugs, vaccines, and medical supplies and equipment, as well as a network of small businesses that provide mortuary services.
The Information Technology Sector is comprised of small and medium businesses, as well as large multinational companies. The IT Sector is a functions-based Sector that comprises not only physical assets such as data centers, but also virtual systems and networks that enable key capabilities and services in both the public and private sectors.
The Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste Sector includes 99 active and 18 decommissioning power reactors, 31 research and test reactors, and 8 active nuclear fuel cycle facilities.
The Transportation Systems Sector includes a variety of assets and organizations that comprise the nation's transportation system. It consists of seven subsectors: aviation, highways and motor carrier, maritime transportation, mass transit and passenger rail, pipeline systems, freight rail, and postal and shipping.
The Water and Wastewater Sector includes assets vital to providing safe drinking water and properly treating wastewater. This sector includes public drinking water systems and wastewater treatment plants.
Some definitions of critical infrastructure are narrower than the DHS NIPP, and may focus on public health and safety at the state or local level, rather than national and economic security. To that end, many cities and states have created their own resilience plans that also include specific strategies to address critical infrastructure. For example, the City of New Orleans is assessing the risks of energy outages to critical infrastructure systems and conducting feasibility studies for backup generation or microgrids as part of its plan, Resilient New Orleans. Similarly, the state of Connecticut addresses a number of resilience objectives in its Comprehensive Energy Strategy, including promoting programs that would keep critical facilities and core services in cities and towns operating when the grid goes down. Additional information and
examples of critical infrastructure resilience planning strategies can be found in under the Resilience Planning section of the Decision Makers page.
One key sector that has increased its focus on enhancing overall resilience in buildings and campus settings is the healthcare industry. The U.S. DHS provided a best practices a document in 2014 to assist healthcare providers in pursuing resilient healthcare infrastructure options, which highlight DG and CHP options to increase energy security and reliability. Healthcare Without Harm also recently published a report detailing resilience changes that healthcare providers could make to be better prepared for future natural disasters and stronger storms.
Critical Infrastructure Planning in the Energy Sector
In addition, the 2015 Energy Sector-Specific Plan, created by DOE, provides information for critical infrastructure resilience planning specific to the energy sector. The report details the energy sector’s security and resilience goals and identifies strategic partnerships and risk management strategies for critical energy infrastructure in the future. The report also identifies approximately 170 activities and programs that could be useful for individuals and/or stakeholders interested in improving critical energy infrastructure. The activities and programs support the national critical energy infrastructure goals and have been developed by a variety of public and private organizations across the country.
The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) Energy Security Committee on Energy Assurance Planning also provides a number of resources on protecting and hardening critical energy infrastructure, energy assurance planning, and enhancing grid resilience efforts.