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Do smart technologies improve resilience of critical infrastructures?

Challenges, opportunities, practical applications
: Jovanovic, Aleksandar; Vollmer, Maike

Critical Infrastructure Protection Review (2017), Autumn 2017, S.37-47
ISSN: 2516-0087
ISSN: 2516-0095
European Commission EC
H2020-Secure societies - Protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens; 700621; SmartResilience
Smart Resilience Indicators for Smart Critical Infrastructures
Fraunhofer INT ()

The paper addresses the impacts that an increased “smartness” of critical infrastructures can have on their resilience towards natural and man-made hazards. Smart technologies, i.e. technologies that are integrated, interconnected, intelligent, and autonomous, usually make a normal operation more adaptive and efficient. However, due to their highly complex architecture, it is not clear if a smart system also behaves smartly when exposed to extreme threats. This question is also focus of the EU project SmartResilience, which develops a respective methodology to measure resilience of smart critical infrastructures. Resilience of an infrastructure is thereby understood as “the ability to understand risks, anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruption”. A maturity model is proposed, which encompasses five levels of critical infrastructure “smartness”, ranging from “non-existent” to “automated/predictive”. The paper addresses six main challenges that operators of critical infrastructure can face due to the application of smart technologies: “compromise of individual privacy”, “governance related challenges”, and “inconsistent adoption” are in the first place seen as intrinsic challenges of systems becoming smarter; and “vulnerability due to interconnectedness”, “vulnerability due to centralization”, and “increased automation” are crucial challenges especially in the context of natural and man-made threats. While the paper elaborates on challenges that operators of critical infrastructures using smart systems can face, it will be necessary to analyze specifically for each smart critical infrastructure, if and in how far advantages such as being more efficient and adaptive are outweighed by related risks.