The Nation’s health, safety, and economy depend on the functioning of complex and interconnected infrastructure systems that provide critical services to communities across the nation. The evolution and escalation of threats and stressors to critical infrastructure, combined with their increased reliance on cyber, have led to an exponential increase in risks to our national security. A key means of reducing these risks is the production of relevant and accessible, resilience-based critical infrastructure research and innovation. The federal government must undertake an integrated approach to research that is designed to effectively enable infrastructure partners at all levels to apply federally-funded research, development, and innovation (RD&I) to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure services.
National policy highlights the need for such research, however the federal research enterprise has yet to fully capitalize on the opportunity by collectively executing an integrated RD&I strategy to address critical infrastructure security and resilience challenges, particularly at the community level. Federal research is often sector-specific or fragmented by discipline, making it hard to see how they might effectively mitigate cross-cutting and systemic risks. In this paper, the Resilient Investment, Planning and Development Working Group (RIPDWG) identifies some specific RD&I needs and strategic actions focused around three major gaps it sees in federal research efforts: (1) An integrated analysis of consequences and risk reduction decision factors for critical services that depend on cyber-physical infrastructure systems; (2) An understanding of the societal dimensions of enhancing the resilience of cyber-physical infrastructure systems; and (3) User-engagement in cyber-physical infrastructure research to translate resilience knowledge into effective action at the local and regional level.
Key strategic RD&I actions identified herein include:
- Develop integrated models capable of identifying systemic risks to interconnected infrastructure and cascading impacts of disruptions.
- Establish interagency RD&I testbeds for cyber-physical infrastructure resilience.
- Develop methods to analyze and monitor cyber and physical infrastructure interoperability to identify points of intervention to sustain operations.
- Integrate decision theory into research to understand and account for how public versus private infrastructure entities assess and manage risk.
- Develop metrics, methodologies, and guidance for decision-makers on integrating green and gray infrastructure solutions.
- Analyze unanticipated vulnerabilities and implications of technology innovation on the security and resilience of critical infrastructure services.
- Understand the impact of workforce changes on critical infrastructure security and resilience to identify gaps in what is needed to support an infrastructure workforce into the future.
- Develop shared baseline information on how demographic, geographic, and institutional capacity stressors have resulted in vulnerabilities and inequitable impacts of critical service disruptions.
- Identify and empirically test principles of resilient design and adaptive risk management to determine effectiveness in meeting infrastructure resilience and sustainability outcomes/metrics.
- Work with private and public, place-based institutions to co-produce knowledge with users to improve the relevance and applicability of RD&I to infrastructure actions at the community level.
- Examine the institutional and regulatory context of infrastructure risk management against the requirements for adaptive management of systems under a changing risk environment.
- Conduct comparative empirical resilience case studies of both federally supported and nonfederal resilience initiatives.
Identified RD&I strategic actions can enhance the current federal research agenda and should be considered for holistic implementation by research partners across the interagency in collaboration with stakeholders.
Read the white paper Research, Development, and Innovation for Enhancing Resilience of Cyber-Physical Critical Infrastructure: Needs and Strategic Actions at CISA