The term infrastructure
|“||has been used since the 1920s to refer collectively to the roads, power grids, telephone systems, bridges, rail lines, and similar public works that are required for an industrial economy to function. Although good infrastructure is often taken for granted and noticed only when it stops functioning, it is among the most complex and expensive thing that society creates.||”|
|“||[a] reliable, supporting environment, analogous to a road or telecommunications network, that facilitates the access to geographically-related information using a minimum set of standard practices, protocols and specifications.||”|
|“||the basic physical structures and facilities (e.g., buildings and cables) needed for the operation of the Internet. In order to build a worldwide network of networks, the so-called Internet, the supporting infrastructure is crucial.||”|
|“||the framework of interdependent networks and systems comprising identifiable industries, institutions (including people and procedures), and distribution capabilities that provide a reliable flow of products and services essential to the defense and economic security of the United States, the smooth functioning of government at all levels, and society as a whole.||”|
One characteristic of infrastructure is that it is deeply embedded in the way we do our work. When it works efficiently, it is invisible: we use it without really thinking about it. When we drive a car, we rely on an infrastructure that includes physical systems of minor and major roads; societal and governmental systems for licensing drivers, setting speed limits, and codifying driver conduct; and economic systems of license fees and gasoline taxes to maintain and expand the roads.
Infrastructure becomes an installed base on which other things are built. Because it is extensive and expensive, infrastructure tends to be built incrementally, not all at once nor everywhere at once.
Real vulnerabilities also exist. Infrastructures have always been subject to local or regional outages resulting from earthquakes, storms, and floods. Their owners and operators, in cooperation with local, state, and federal emergency services, have demonstrated their capacity to restore services efficiently. Physical vulnerabilities to man-made threats, such as arson and bombs, are likewise not new. But physical vulnerabilities take on added significance as new capabilities to exploit them emerge, including chemical, biological, and even nuclear weapons. As weapons of mass destruction proliferate, the likelihood of their use by terrorists increases.
- Revolutionizing Science and Engineering through Cyberinfrastructure, at 5.
- GeoConnections, Glossary & Acronyms.
- Threat Landscape and Good Practice Guide for Internet Infrastructure, at 6.
- President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection, Critical Foundations: Protecting America’s Infrastructures, Glossary (Oct. 1997) (full-text).
- "Overview" section: Our Cultural Commonwealth, at 6 (emphasis in original).