November is Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, a time to recognize the importance of safeguarding our nation’s most important assets that are the lifelines of our communities. From our transportation networks and banking systems, to utilities like power, water and gas, it is vital that we help first responders, emergency managers, the private sector, and public utility companies mitigate threats if and when they arise.
S&T has been spearheading multiple initiatives to protect our critical infrastructure, partnering with the government’s national laboratories, universities, interagency partners, and the private sector on several different fronts.
After Hurricane Matthew and the many others we’ve seen, it’s not difficult to imagine a severe storm knocking out power in a major U.S. city. Energy is a critical function in daily life—from powering our mobile devices, to providing light and heat in our homes, and sustaining industry. That’s why we are helping protect our nation’s power grids.
S&T partnered with American Superconductor (AMSC), an energy technologies company, as part of its Resilient Electric Grid (REG) program to develop high temperature fault current lining superconducting cables. This technology will allow power to be re-routed around downed substations and enable rapid and resilient recovery from grid outages.
In that same vein, our Solar Storm Mitigation Project looks at protecting electric grids from severe space weather such as geomagnetic storms. Because geomagnetic storms can cause instability in the grid or cause power grids to collapse, S&T has worked with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to develop a real-time forecasting tool to provide accurate and localized forecasts specific to a utility’s location. This can help electric utilities protect against such events by providing them with actionable information.
We are also working on addressing GPS vulnerabilities within critical infrastructure. Specifically, S&T is developing technologies to mitigate against GPS disruptions, working with manufacturers to help make GPS receivers more resilient, and also conducting research on other technologies that can provide assured robust timing and complement or serve as a backup to GPS, such as eLoran and Iridium.
These programs illustrate how S&T is continuing to build resilience at the local level, and building partnerships between the public and private sectors, to foster innovation and attract investment to build a sustainable national infrastructure.