Failure of critical national infrastructures can result in major disruptions to society and the economy. Understanding the criticality of individual assets and the geographic areas in which they are located is essential for targeting investments to reduce risks and enhance system resilience. Within this study we provide new insights into the criticality of real-life critical infrastructure networks by integrating high-resolution data on infrastructure location, connectivity, interdependence, and usage. We propose a metric of infrastructure criticality in terms of the number of users who may be directly or indirectly disrupted by the failure of physically interdependent infrastructures. Kernel density estimation is used to integrate spatially discrete criticality values associated with individual infrastructure assets, producing a continuous surface from which statistically significant infrastructure criticality hotspots are identified. We develop a comprehensive and unique national-scale demonstration for England and Wales that utilizes previously unavailable data from the energy, transport, water, waste, and digital communications sectors. The testing of 200,000 failure scenarios identifies that hotspots are typically located around the periphery of urban areas where there are large facilities upon which many users depend or where several critical infrastructures are concentrated in one location.
Scott Thacker, Stuart Barr, Raghav Pant, Jim W. Hall and David Alderson