In my last course, HMLS Intelligence, we spent a good amount of time discussing critical infrastructure and our professor asked us to rank which one we believed to be the most critical. We reviewed the 16 key resource sectors
Defense Industrial base
Public Health/ Healthcare
Banking and Finance
Drinking water/ Water treatment systems
National monuments and Icons
Commercial nuclear reactors, materials, and waste
In this discussion, we had to identify which resource posed the largest threat to the country/ world if destroyed. First, we had to agree on the definition of destroyed, which, to me, I considered an event like a bombing or an asteroid hit, that would completely destroy a resource and damage it beyond reasonable repair turn around time. With that criteria, I identified Dams and nuclear reactors to be the two largest resources that would devastate the nation if destroyed. First, if a dam, say, the Hoover Dam, were destroyed, it would take years, possibly decades to repair the damage to its functionality level that we expect from it today. Its destruction would flood many smaller towns and cities in the southwest, possibly leaving the lands uninhabitable for years. The millions of people and resources in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Diego, among others, who rely on this resource for drinking water and agricultural irrigation would leave a large impact on other parts of the agricultural sector of the country, as well as impacting national water suppliers. The electricity that is derived from hydroelectric power supplied by the dam would cause huge problems all along the south west. Finally, the amount of critical infrastructure that would be wiped out in a flood of that size can’t be ignored. And all of these threats would have a major impact on the national economy. Similarly, if a nuclear reactor were to be destroyed, comparable to Chernobyl, the aftermath would be catastrophic.
Our class came up with many great arguments for and against various infrastructures being the most critical, ultimately, there was a correct answer and it was the energy sector, as everything else relies on the proper delivery of energy to run adequately.
I work in a medical imaging facility, we perform X-rays, MRI’s, mammograms, CT scans, and sonograms. We have dozens of computers, and lots of equipment that supports the other equipment, but the one piece of equipment that hinders us more than anything else when it isn’t performing is our printer. Just your regular, run-of-the-mill, high capacity printer. Although we are generally “paperless” there is still an inherent reliance on certain processes that we cannot complete without paper. Several of our exams require patient consent, and several exams require a specialized screening form and technical worksheet that the tech use to provide the radiologist with all the clinical history needed to make an informed reading. If we can’t consent patients, we can’t scan them, and at this time, we do not have any equipment that supports electronic confirmation, so all official documentation for everything we do here has to be done on paper. And we only have one printer. An issue that I suggesting having a backup for when we opened a few years ago, but it was not approved, and of course, last year, our printer broke and we were completely unprepared to conduct business without it. We had to make several trips to Wal-Mart and multiple attempts from IT and the field support team to get us back to a functional level on our little substitute printer, but it was awful. It was an eye-opening experience to understand how much we relied on this underrated piece of equipment. Of course we can’t do anything without power supply and are extremely limited when our network goes down, so those a critical for us performing our duties as well. It is interesting how impactful different resources are in different settings.