Critical infrastructure involves assets, systems, networks, and facilities that are crucial for the proper functioning of the society and economy. Society relies upon them to manage national security, public health, and safety as well as the vitality of the economy. Things like the power we use in our homes and businesses, the water that we use for cooking and drinking, transportation that takes us around, places where we shop, and internet and communications that we use to interlink with our family, friends, and colleagues are good examples of critical infrastructure (Fay, 2014).
In the United States, the majority of the critical infrastructures are privately operated. Some are controlled by state, federal, and local governments. Some of the infrastructures may not be vital in some regions or nations. Each nation needs to identify the infrastructure that is critical for the maintenance and continuation of its daily functions and that which is vulnerable to some threats if not considered. To enhance the nation’s security, improve power and reduce any risks, the government needs to consider the most essential critical infrastructures during the allocation of resources. The infrastructure that is considered critical in each nation is varied depending on the needs, resources, and developmental state of each nation. The department of Homeland Security in the United States recognizes 16 critical sectors of infrastructure (CISA, 2019). This article provides a brief discussion of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors and the three significant sectors in my locality.
The 16 critical infrastructure sectors
In the United States economy, the chemical sector essentially produces, stores, transports, and uses potentially hazardous chemicals. The other fundamental sectors depend on this sector. Vigilance from the private and public sectors is needed to secure the chemicals against the growing and developing threats. The goods that Americans use daily are made using products from the chemical sector. The chemical sector comprises the basic, specialty, and agricultural chemicals together with pharmaceuticals and consumer products (CISA, 2021).
The pharmaceutical industry manufactures, extracts, processes, and packages chemical materials utilized in medications. The pharmaceutical facilities manufacture biological and medical products, process drugs and herbs that are botanical, separate active medical components from botanical drugs and herbs, and/or produce medicinal products for internal and external use. Consumer products are wrapped products that are called household items. They include cosmetics, soaps, detergents, and deodorants (Fay, 2014).
Commercial facilities sector
This sector comprises different organizations that offer shopping, business, entertainment, and/ or hospitality services. They are mostly owned privately and are minimally interfered with by the regulatory bodies. The facilities operate openly and the public moves freely. Lodges offer short-term accommodation services depending on one’s preference (CISA, 2021).
The energy services sector
The energy sector powers the economy of the United States. Health and welfare are under threat when the supply of energy is not stable. It includes the electricity, oil, and natural gas segments. Electricity is generated by the combustion of coal, nuclear power plants, and natural gas (CISA, 2021).
The dams sector
The basic water maintenance and water control services are supplied by the dam sector. These services include hydroelectric power, the supply of the city and industrial aqua, irrigation, residues and flood control, recreation, and industrial waste management. Homeland security in the United States has partnered with the sector owners to ensure there is proper guidance, training, and resources for the safety and strength of the critical dams, levees, mine tailings, and navigation blocks. Levees lower the risks of floods. The levees are diversely owned by the state, federal, local, and private institutions. Navigation locks are established to control the inland marine highway networks. The navigation locks are owned and operated by federal agencies (Moffet & Parfomak, 2004).
The financial services sector
This sector protects the key source of the country’s economic vitality. It comprises the providers of insurance, banking, and investing services to people and corporations. The banking sector offers savings and lending services. Commercial and community banks are major providers of banking services. They get revenues from loan interests and depositor’s rates. Through the investment services, investors have access to stocks and bonds. The buying and selling of securities are directed by brokers (Fay, 2014).
Nuclear reactors, materials, and waste sector
This sector offers nuclear infrastructure and power reactors that supply electricity to US citizens and provide medical isotopes for cancer treatment. The security and resilience of the nuclear sector are coordinated by the nuclear sector risk management agency. The 31 research and test reactors situated in universities and national laboratories make medical and industrial isotopes for cancer treatment and carrying out radiographic services. The isotopes are also used in academic research. 8 active nuclear fuel cycle facilities produce and reprocess nuclear reactor fuel (CISA, 2021).
The food and agriculture sector
It is privately owned. It comprises food manufacturing, processing, and storage facilities, farms, and restaurants. The food and agriculture sector represents a fifth of the nation’s economic actions. The manufacturing plants transform unprocessed agricultural materials into intermediate or final products for human use. The restaurants operate openly to offer foods and drinks to their customers. The food and agricultural sector depends on other infrastructural sectors like energy, transportation, and/or the chemical sector (CISA, 2021).
Water and wastewater systems sector
This sector supplies the citizens with drinking water and offers treatment of the wastewater. Wastewater treatment prevents sicknesses. Mostly, Americans are served by municipal sewerage treatment systems. This offers treatment to the drinking water and wastewater to avoid contaminants (Fay, 2014).
Healthcare and public health sector
This ensures that United States citizens are healthy and safe. The sector expands and strengthens the public health and health care systems of the nation. For efficient operation and service delivery, this sector relies on other infrastructure sectors. It offers general protections to other sectors from terrorism, natural disasters, and outbreaks of diseases. The public health component addresses community health. The public health component is managed by all levels of government (CISA, 2021).
Emergency services sector
The emergency services sector comprises millions of highly-knowledgeable and educated persons. They offer a lengthy range of zeal and emergency response. The emergency communication division offers support and promotion of communication that is utilized by government officials and emergency respondents. It offers training and guidance on tool coordination for the regulatory bodies to grow emergency communications potential. The cybersecurity division collaborates with the private sector to improve security on civilian critical networks. To manage cybersecurity risks, it supports the other critical infrastructures, state, local and territorial partners (Fay, 2014).
Transportation system sector
The transport sector quickly moves people and products through the nation and abroad in a protected and safe manner. It comprises the pipeline systems, aviation, marine transportation, freight rail, postal and shipping, mass transit and passenger rail, and many others. The pipeline transport system conveys natural gas, toxic liquids, and different chemicals. It consists of pipelines, compressors, and pumping stations (Moteff & Parfomak, 2004).
The communications sector
This enables the functioning of all the critical sectors. They convey facts in words, voice, audio, or video across the world. Wireless communication has been growing fast. People and organizations have moved to the use of mobile devices and technology that is cloud-based (CISA, 2021).
The information technology sector
This sector involves the use of computers and telecommunications to preserve, recover, and convey data. Companies that produce software, hardware, and semiconductor equipment as well as those that offer internet services belong to the information technology sector. Internet service providers develop and market the internet via online databases and interactive services (CISA, 2021).
The defense industrial base sector
This sector is global. It enables the research, development, design, production, delivery, and maintenance of military weapons systems. Its products mobilize, deploy and maintain military works. The defense training sector offers training on strategies to improve agility and maintenance of relevance (Moteff & Parfomak, 2004).
The critical manufacturing sector
This is very critical in the thriving of the United States economy. It is involved in the transformation of materials into finished goods and includes the manufacture of metals, machinery, automotive and transportation equipment as well as the electrical equipment producers. The transportation equipment manufacturing section is involved in the manufacture of vehicles and commercial ships, manufacture of the parts and products of aerospace, and equipment for transit cars and locomotives (Fay, 2014).
The government facilities sector
This sector comprises buildings that are located in the United States and abroad, owned and/or rented by the elected, state, neighborhood, and tribal governments. Many of the facilities are open to the public. For example, the national laboratories that carry out research are restricted from public access because they house sensitive facts and materials (CISA, 2021).
Most significant critical infrastructure
There are three critical infrastructures whose reliable operations are very critical and the loss or disruption of any of these affects the potency and safety of critical infrastructure in numerous sectors. These include the energy, critical manufacturing, and water and wastewater management sectors. All sectors depend on the energy sector for essential electric power and fuels. The manufacturing sector produces key equipment for the government and thus its attack or disruption could interfere with key national functions. Safe drinking water is crucial for public health and human activity protection. When wastewater is well treated, diseases are prevented and the environment is protected (CISA, 2019).
The loss of any of these sectors affects the operation of other multiple sectors. Attacks on the critical infrastructure sectors cause disastrous effects and poses threat to the entire community and the global economy. It is not possible to fully recover resources lost after a disaster or return people to the state they were before. The process is usually complicated due to the continuity of the damage and consonant repair among the varying demands. Societies and economies are forever altered that’s there is a need to prevent disaster occurrences (Rouhanizadeh et al., 2019).
Daily communal and economic functions depend on the critical infrastructure. Various stakeholders share the responsibility of maintaining the strength and safety of each critical infrastructure. When working together, the different stakeholders should perceive good operations, perspectives, and encounters to advance and amplify the national and world-critical infrastructures. The interruption or deprivation of any of the critical infrastructures severely affects people’s lives.
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, CISA. (2021). Critical Infrastructure Sectors. Retrieved from: https://www.cisa.gov/about-cisa.
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, CISA. (2019). A Guide to Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience. Retrieved from:
Fay, J.J. (2014). Critical Infrastructures and Key Resources. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-381549-1.00027-0.
Moteff, J & Parfomak, P. (2004). Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets: Definition and Identification. Retrieved from: https://sgp.fas.org/crs/RL32631.pdf.
Rouhanizadeh, B., Kermanshachi, S. & Dhamangaonkar, V.S. (2019). Reconstruction of Critical and Interdependent Infrastructure Due to Catastrophic Natural Disasters: Lessons Learned. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335841360.