The European Commission defines Critical Infrastructures as those “means and assets, systems or part thereof…which are essential for the maintenance of vital societal functions, health, safety, security, economic or social well-being of people, and the disruption or destruction of which would have a significant impact…as a result of the failure to maintain those functions”.
Energy, transport and information and communication technology are identified as the main sectors in which Critical Infrastructures play a vital role. In particular, the energy sector is further specified into the electricity infrastructures and facilities for generation and transmission of electricity in respect of supply electricity; oil production, refining, treatment, storage and transmission by pipelines; gas production, refining, treatment, storage and transmission by pipelines; LNG terminals. The transport sector is further specified into the road transport; rail transport; air transport; inland waterways transport; ocean and short-sea shipping and ports.
The national program of “Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience” by the United States of America further specifies 16 Critical Infrastructure sectors ranging from food and agriculture, and water and wastewater systems to healthcare and public health, and financial services.
The directives on Critical Infrastructures all consistently ask for the efficient identification of risks, threats and vulnerabilities in the particular sectors, the preparation of an overall strategy to protect Critical Infrastructures, the evaluation of security requirements for such infrastructures, overseeing and managing risks, business continuity planning and post-disaster recovery, operator security plans comprising a prioritization of counter measures.
The Technical Committee provides a connection point for policy makers, operators, practitioners and researchers for discussing and developing common methodologies for the identification and classification of risks, threats and vulnerabilities to infrastructure assets. The development of these tools are challenged by the level of complexity and interconnectedness, the multiple level of interdependencies inherent in such systems, and by the broad spectrum of hazards and threats to which they are exposed. The issues addressed are interdisciplinary in that they call for diverse expertise, and cross-sectorial from the application point of view due to the specificity of the different systems and operating environment.
Typical research questions and case studies regarding Critical Infrastructures include the assessment of the interdependencies among them, the study of the propagation of cascading failures, the identification of vulnerabilities in these large-scale systems, the quantification of resilience with reference to the modeling of recovery and restoration processes following disruptions, the impact of extreme events, and the influence of human factors in the management of Critical Infrastructures.
The activities of the Committee, such as the organization of workshops, technical sessions and roundtables at ESREL Conferences, will be coordinated by the participants in the Committee. Furthermore, the Committee is active in interacting with analogous bodies across Countries, i.e. by participating in the Engineering and Infrastructure Specialty Group of the Society for Risk Analysis.