In today’s world how do we protect critical infrastructure in the US IE Airports, Bus Stations, Train Stations, Food Supplies.

After 9/11 the US government’s response to protect critical infrastructure throughout the country was to inact the Homeland Security Act.  The primary mission of the Homeland Security Act is to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce the vulnerability to terrorism, minimize damage and assist in recovery from a terrorist attack that may occur in the United States.  This Act allowed the development of  the Department of Homeland Security. The Homeland Security Act provides the Homeland Security Secretary with the authority to direct and control investigations and access information needed to prevent terrorism.

The President then enacted the National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets. The below figure displays critical infrastructure identified in the Strategy.

The Protection Challenge

  • Agriculture and Food . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,912,000 farms; 87,000 food processing plants
  • Water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,800 federal reservoirs; 1,600 municipal waste water facilities
  • Public Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5,800 registered hospitals
  • Emergency Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87,000 U.S. localities
  • Defense Industrial Base . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .250,000 firms in 215 distinct industries
  • Telecommunications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 billion miles of cable
  • Electricity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2,800 power plants
  • Oil and Natural Gas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .300,000 producing sites
  • Aviation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5,000 public airports
  • Passenger Rail and Railroads . . . . . . . . . . . . . .120,000 miles of major railroads
  • Highways, Trucking, and Busing . . . . . . . . . . .590,000 highway bridges
  • Pipelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 million miles of pipeline
  • Maritime . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .300 inland and costal ports
  • Mass Transit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .500 major urban public transit operators
  • Banking and Finance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26,600 FDIC-insured institutions
  • Chemical Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .66,000 chemical plants
  • Postal and Shipping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .137 million delivery sites
  • National Monuments and Icons . . . . . . . . . . .5,800 historic buildings
  • Nuclear Power Plants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .104 commercial nuclear power plants
  • Dams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80,000 dams
  • Government Facilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3,000 government-owned or –operated facilities
  • Commercial Assets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .460 skyscrapers
  • *These are approximate figures.
  • Source: S. Department of Homeland Security, The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets (2003), www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/Physical_Strategy.pdf, September 21, 2007.

Since the passing of the initial Act there’s been a number of amendments to the strategy as needs arise, such as adding The Cyber Security Act.   All are viewable on the DHS webpage.

Do we have the appropriate assets in place to protect our Critical Infrastructure, both public and private throughout the nation?  Within the National Strategy outline, private enterprises are responsible for the security of their own sites.   If the threat level increases, they can request federal assistance through the Department of Homeland Security.  As we are all aware there has not been a successful major attack in the US since 9/11.  Will this cause private enterprise to consider profits over security?

Is the US government budget able to sustain the level of security needed around the abundant infrastructure assets nationwide?