The frequency and severity of impacts of disaster and crises events has channeled attention to vulnerable physical assets, with a particular focus on critical infrastructure (CI). The removal or suspension of critical infrastructure assets from normal service significantly affect public safety, security, economic activity or environmental quality. A breakdown in any one of these assets alone can bring about catastrophic consequences, but it is the inter-dependency of these systems, and by extension, the cascading effects of a breakdown in one system on other interconnected systems, which is of most significant concern.
A fault in an electricity transmission network in Northern Germany which resulted in a blackout for more than 15 million people across Western Europe in 2006 exemplifies the type of cascading effects on transport, healthcare systems, financial services and societal security and safety that can quickly arise when there is a failure of critical infrastructure. Another example of the importance of resilience efforts to safeguarding CI arose when a Russian-Ukraine gas dispute escalated in 2009 resulting in a major disruption to the gas supply of many European States with thousands of homes and business left without electricity. This news section will keep you updated on how RESILENS progresses in combating these and other system breakdowns in the wider European context.