New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Aura Reggiani and Peter Nijkamp
Chapter 3: Power and Packets: A Spatial Network Comparison of the US Electric Power Grid and the Internet Network
Laurie A. Schintler, Rajendra G. Kulkarni, Sean P. Gorman and Roger R. Stough 3.1 INTRODUCTION Critical infrastructure is an area of increasing national attention, but the interdependencies of such infrastructures and their similarities and differences are only just beginning to be explored. The importance of critical infrastructure has become all the more prominent because of the possibility of it being exploited by terrorists for attack: The vulnerability of societies to terrorist attacks results in part from the proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction, but it is also a consequence of the highly efficient and interconnected systems we rely on for key services such as transportation, information, energy, and health care. The efficient functioning of these systems reflects great technological achievements of the past century, but interconnectedness within and across systems also means that infrastructures are vulnerable to local disruptions, which could lead to widespread or catastrophic failures. (NRC 2002, p. 1) In short, the NCR report on making the nation safer illustrates that private efficiencies are resulting in public vulnerabilities. Many of these vulnerabilities result from the interconnection and interdependency of critical infrastructures. To begin to tackle the issue of interdependency, it is useful to examine how infrastructures are different and how they are interdependent at the same time. As a case study for this approach, this chapter will examine two critical infrastructures: power and information. First, in Section 3.2, examples of failures in each of these critical infrastructures are presented as anecdotal case studies. Next,...
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