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Definition of a methodology for the assessment of mutual interdependencies between ICT and electricity generation/transmission infrastructures

Definition of a methodology for the assessment of mutual interdependencies between ICT and electricity generation/transmission infrastructures

The MIA project aims to develop a methodological framework to identify and measure the (potentially critical) interdependencies between Power System & ICT infrastructures as vital input for network vulnerability and risk analysis.

With a multidisciplinary and multisector approach, starting from a survey of existing best practises on network interdependencies analysis, the project MIA develop an integrated and scalable methodology tested on the Italian use case but scalable to EU ICT and Electricity network interdependencies analysis.

Critical Infrastructures (CI) must be considered, nowadays, an entangled “system of systems” as their interdependency, at any level, is undeniable. At the highest level of abstraction, CIs are systems which provide services to other systems from which they receive, in turn, services needed for their own functioning. Although the link between the systems, constituted by the type and the relevance of the service given-to/received-from the others, can be more or less evident, more or less relevant, the complete network of such a “system of systems” must be thought as a fully connected graph.

The assessed interdependency between all CIs is thus going to compel the set-up of a paradigm for the design of new tools for their analysis and control. This paradigm cannot avoid to rely on the knowledge of all networks in terms of their structure, their functioning, their needs. Vulnerability and resilience of such a “system of systems” are thus strongly related to the resilience of the single system and of the single elements of each system. A failure of an element of one CI can have strong repercussions on other CIs. The description of the “system of systems” at an abstract level has allowed to understand the need of providing more and more information on the “degree” of interdependency linking different CIs.

Beyond a mere, qualitative, description of the presence of some dependency mechanism among a generic CI, say A, with an other CI, say B, a more quantitative assessment of the strength of the link AB is needed. The program of building a new paradigm and new tools for interdependency assessment, however, should take the moves from a very basic action: the understanding of the key nature of each of the interdependency links and, after that, the evaluation of their strengths. In the current economical settings, however, there may be discrepancies between EU requirements and the expectations of the regular customers of the ICT and electricity generation / transmission infrastructure.

EU clearly focuses on the rise of CIs resilience (to ensure high standards for dispatched Quality of Service). These issues may be in contrast with the ICT and electricity generation/transmission players whose strategies are more devoted to the market and the preservation of their market shares. In this respect, MIA recommendations should be promoted across all members states, to let operators aware of the current risks related to the lack of a multi-domain governance of CIs which should induce, in the correct extent, not to place commercial considerations ahead of the wider benefits of resilience.