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What Is Critical Infrastructure?

The Hoover Dam, which is used to generate hydroelectric power, is considered critical infrastructure.
Water supply pipelines are a critical part of infrastructure.
Dams are typically considered to be part of the critical infrastructure of a country.
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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Images By: Andy, Renáta Sedmáková, Harvey Barrison
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2014
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Critical infrastructure refers to those essential assets that are considered vital to the continued smooth functioning of the society as an integrated entity. The term is mostly utilized by the government of various countries, states or local administration in the description of the infrastructural framework within a place in the area. Some of these fundamental or critical infrastructure include features like the transportation system as it exists in the area, electricity and other energy requirements as well as the health system. It may also include the financial framework, telecommunication, electricity and the supply of water.

Critical infrastructure are considered “critical” because they are deemed to be essential to the effective functioning of the society. For instance, a good telecommunication network allows for the easy flow of information between members of the society in their private and business capacities. When people are able to communicate with each other, the society will benefit in various forms. An example is when phone service is available in a good portion of the country people will be able to conduct meetings over the phone, obtain and relay information, and generally keep in touch without having to travel long distances. This critical infrastructure may be developed by the government in conjunction with private investors.

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Another critical infrastructure is the health or medical structural framework in place in the society. This particular infrastructure is important simply due to the benefits derived from having a good health infrastructure. An example of health infrastructure is building and maintaining hospitals, including supplying hospitals with modern medical equipment. It also includes the establishment of a financial health welfare system, which the less-privileged members of the society can utilize to gain access to necessary health care services.

Water supply is a critical infrastructure that involves treating and supplying good drinking water to the different areas of the community as well as the building and maintenance of water processing tanks and water supply pipelines. Part of the water supply infrastructure includes the protection of water sources, including underground and surface water sources from pollutants and other sources of contamination. Another aspect of the water supply infrastructure is the building of sewages and other projects that will help in the management of waste water.

Electricity is a critical infrastructure because people depend on electricity for daily home and industrial activities. This type of infrastructure may include the construction and maintenance of dams, coal plants and other sources of electricity generation, including solar electricity-generating plants. It may also include the construction and maintenance of other alternative sources of electricity generation, such as windmills or energy derived from nuclear power.

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