Science and Technology Critical Infrastructure

Critical Infrastructure

Critical infrastructure includes the vast network of highways, connecting bridges and tunnels, railways, utilities and buildings necessary to maintain normalcy in daily life. Transportation, commerce, clean water and electricity all rely on these vital systems.

Working closely with infrastructure owners, operators and the National Protection and Programs Directorate of DHS, RSD program managers have identified potential infrastructure vulnerabilities. RSD is currently working with national labs, universities and public and private industry partners to develop better ways to protect infrastructure, or, in the event of a problem, provide the means for the most rapid recovery. Specifically, RSD is pursuing the development and testing of new concepts to provide better protection from flooding, explosive blasts, solar storms and other man-made and natural disasters. This work will help improve infrastructure, reduce the threat of interruption to the daily commerce and interaction that these systems provide and enhance the overall security of our nation.

RSD projects address the following key infrastructure elements, which are critical to day-to-day operations.

  • Bridges and Tunnels: These structures, which are potential “choke points” for the flow of transportation and commerce, are vulnerable to a variety of hazards. RSD is increasing the resiliency of these vital transportation assets through our Resilient Structures and Facilities program, which includes efforts involving the Resilient Tunnel Plug, Bridge and Tunnel Security and Advanced Flood Protection.
  • Energy is a critical function in daily life—from powering our mobile devices to providing light and heat in our homes to sustaining industry. Modern life is dependent on energy being available at any time. RSD continues to research and develop workable solutions that will help make these systems more resilient to both man-made and natural hazards through our Resilient Electric Grid and Solar Storm Mitigation projects.
  • Drinking Water: Drinking water is necessary for survival. RSD has prioritized the risks to the drinking water system in order to identify and address the most critical risks in our Drinking Water Resilience project.
  • Disaster Response: First responders often operate in hazardous conditions and under tight timelines. RSD remains highly committed to contributing to responders’ situational awareness with several technology advancements, including camera systems and other tools through our Overhead Imagery project. RSD is also hosting a Wide Area Surveillance program that includes Scalable Integration of Geo-dispersed Monitoring Assets and Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance projects.

Global Positioning System (GPS) Program - Accurate position, navigation and timing (PNT) is necessary for the functioning of many critical infrastructure sectors. Precision timing is particularly important and is mainly provided through the Global Positioning System (GPS). However, GPS’s space-based signals are low-power and unencrypted, making them susceptible to both intentional and unintentional disruption.

Recovery Transformer (RecX) - Extra high voltage (EHV) transformers are critical components of our nation’s backbone transmission grid. Approximately 90 percent of consumed power flows through the transmission grid and through such a transformer. These EHV transformers are very large, challenging to transport, and often have lengthy procurement times of one year or greater.

Solar Storm Mitigation - Solar storms are a naturally occurring phenomenon where the sun releases solar flares, energetic particles and/or coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

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