The complexity and interdependence of the nation's infrastructure make it difficult to understand and protect, said Jim Peerenboom, director of the Infrastructure Assurance Center at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago.
The World Trade Center attack showed the vulnerability of the nation's infrastructure, he
New York City emergency services agencies were devastated early on Sept. 11.Airlines were grounded, and tunnels, bridges and borders were closed.
Massive disruptions of telecommunications occurred, shutting down Wall Street trading - affecting banking and financial services worldwide - and hindering communication among rescue workers and others.
The energy sector was affected by gasoline price-gouging and fears that refineries and nuclear plants would be attacked.
"The effects are still playing out today," Peerenboom
said, urging the participants to develop an understanding of what happens if infrastructure is lost and how individual segments affect other segments.
It is estimated that up to 90 percent of the equipment used to make telephone calls, produce and deliver energy and goods, and transact financial services are owned by the private sector.