• Developing the capacity to withstand and recover quickly from natural and human-made disasters.

The links between critical infrastructure systems and these 21st century imperatives are not always obvious. However, they are real and significant.


Throughout much of the 20th century, the United States was the global economic leader, and it remains so today. However, new technologies, political changes, and other factors have led to greater economic competition among nations, new production centers, and new trading patterns, all of which have implications for U.S. competitiveness in the future. The Internet and other technologies have changed the structure of businesses and the location of production centers around the world (Mongelluzzo, 2008). The development of “megaships” for transporting containerized goods, implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and other major factors are changing trading patterns among nations. The fall of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the emergence of the European Union, China, and India as economic powers have resulted in greater wealth and consumer demand throughout the world (Gallis, 2008). For the United States, international trade (imports and exports) increased yearly between 1997 and 2005 as a proportion of the gross domestic product, a trend that is projected to continue through 2030 (Figure 2.1).

A key enabler of global trade is the “increasingly complex just-in-time supply chain logistics system, which depends, in turn, on reliable power, mobility, and water” (Doshi et al., 2007, p. 4). Critical infrastructure systems, in fact, provide the foundation for producing and moving goods and services to seaports, airports, and shipping terminals for export to other countries.

The primarily east-west configuration of the nation’s highways, railways, and shipping terminals reflects the trading patterns of the 20th century. Food, vehicles, and other goods were primarily produced in the center of the country and transported to major cities on the East, West, and Gulf Coasts for domestic consumption and for shipment to Europe and Asia.

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