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Understanding the Critical Infrastructure Classification

Posted by Mihlfeld & Associates on Mar 23, 2020 11:00:00 AM

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, state and federal politicians are using terms like non-essential or critical infrastructure to classify businesses. There are few different purposes for the classification one being them to easily distinguish which organizations are necessary to health, safety, and security of the nation. There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors who are deemed vital. Within each of the Critical Infrastructure Sectors, there are specific industries that serve as the foundation of the sector. Below we list the 16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors and the Core Industries within each.

Critical Manufacturing Sector

Primary Metals Manufacturing
  • Iron and Steel Mills and Ferro Alloy Manufacturing
  • Alumina and Aluminum Production and Processing
  • Nonferrous Metal Production and Processing
    Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and Component Manufacturing
    • Electric Motor Manufacturing
    • Transformer Manufacturing
    • Generator Manufacturing

    Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
    • Vehicles and Commercial Ships Manufacturing
    • Aerospace Products and Parts Manufacturing
    • Locomotives, Railroad and Transit Cars, and Rail Track Equipment Manufacturing

Chemical Sector

There are several hundred thousand chemical facilities in the U.S. and they serve every other Critical Infrastructure Sector. Because of the end product associated with each chemical facility, the Sector is broken into 5 Cores:

  • Basic chemicals
  • Specialty chemicals
  • Agricultural chemicals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Consumer products


Communications Sector

The Communications Sector is maintained by the private sector but works in conjunction with governments to maintain communication mediums for Critical Infrastructure Sectors such as:

  • Energy Sector
  • Information Technology Sector
  • Emergency Services Sector
  • Transportation Systems Sector

Energy Sector

The reliance of virtually every other Critical Infrastructure relies on the continued functions of the Energy Sector which is broke down into 3 Cores:

  • Electricity
  • Oil
  • Natural Gas

Emergency Services Sector

The mission of the Emergency Services Sector is to save lives, protect property and people, assist communities and aid in recovery. This Critical Infrastructure Sector includes 5 Cores:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Fire & Rescue Services
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Emergency Management
  • Public Works

Food & Agriculture Sector

This sector is entirely under private ownership and accounts for approximately 1/5 of the United States economy. Obviously, the necessity of this sector cannot be overstated as the vast majority of food consumed in the US is grown in the US. All Sectors rely on this sector and this Sector most relies on the following Sectors:

  • Energy
  • Chemical
  • Transportation Systems
  • Water & Wastewater Systems


Government Facilities Sector

A collection of buildings owned by a federal, state, or local government that are necessary to continue to provide defense or operations deemed necessary for the health and security of the population. These include facilities such as:

  • Military Installations
  • Prisons, courthouses, jails
  • Schools
  • Embassies
  • Laboratories
  • Many more…

Defense Industrial Base Sector

A varied network of private and government run facilities and manufacturers. The main purpose of the Sector is to research, develop, manufacture, and maintain military weapons, weapons systems, and components and parts to meet the needs of the US military. There are over 100,000 companies and subcontractors who perform these duties. If you are one, you know you are one.

Healthcare & Public Health Sector

This Sector includes all private and government run efforts to ensure the health of the population. Cores in this Sector include Hospitals, Healthcare workers, Clinics, Rehabilitation & Long-term living facilities. While most facilities are owned and operated privately, all public health is overseen by the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Nuclear Reactors, Materials, & Waste Sector

The dangers associated with Nuclear Energy coupled with the fact that 20% of the nation’s electric is generated by nuclear power makes this a Critical Infrastructure Sector. The Cores of this Sector include:

  • 99 Active and 18 Decommissioning Power Reactors
  • 31 Research & Test Reactors
  • 8 Active Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities
  • 20,000 licensed used of radioactive sources
  • 3,000,000+ yearly shipments of radioactive materials.

Water & Wastewater Systems Sector

All other Sectors rely on the maintenance of the nation’s water systems. The failure of public drinking water or wastewater systems would lead to catastrophic losses. Industries serving this sector are vital to the safety and security of the nation.

Dams Sector

Dams are a Critical Infrastructure Sector of their own because they don’t all serve the same purpose and the number of dams is so large (90,000+). Dams effect many other sectors including:

  • Energy
  • Water Supplies
  • Agricultural irrigation
  • Industrial Waste Management
  • Natural Disaster Management (Flood Management)
  • Recreation

Transportation Systems Sector

The majority of other Critical Infrastructure Sectors rely on transportation in one way or the other. The ability to move people & goods is vital to the safety and security of the nation. The Dept. of Homeland Defense and Dept. of Transportation both oversee this Critical Infrastructure Sector which includes the following Cores:

  • Aviation
  • Highway and Motor Carrier
  • Maritime Transportation System
  • Mass Transit and Passenger Rail
  • Pipeline Systems
  • Freight Rail
  • Postal and Shipping

Information Technology Sector

Information Technology Sector functions are operated by a combination of entities—often owners and operators and their respective associations—that maintain and reconstitute the network, including the Internet. Although information technology infrastructure has a certain level of inherent resilience, its interdependent and interconnected structure presents challenges as well as opportunities for coordinating public and private sector preparedness and protection activities.

The Information Technology Sector is central to the nation's security, economy, and public health and safety as businesses, governments, academia, and private citizens are increasingly dependent upon Information Technology Sector functions. These virtual and distributed functions produce and provide hardware, software, and information technology systems and services, and—in collaboration with the Communications Sector—the Internet. The sector's complex and dynamic environment makes identifying threats and assessing vulnerabilities difficult and requires that these tasks be addressed in a collaborative and creative fashion.

Financial Services Sector

The Financial Services Sector includes thousands of depository institutions, providers of investment products, insurance companies, other credit and financing organizations, and the providers of the critical financial utilities and services that support these functions. The core functions of Finance that must remain available to the public include:

  • Deposit funds and make payments to other parties
  • Provide credit and liquidity to customers
  • Invest funds for both long and short periods
  • Transfer financial risks between customers

Commercial Facilities Sector

This Sector is included as part of Critical Infrastructure because it must be protected by governments both federal and local. However, in regard to COVID-19, the safest plan for Commercial Facilities is to limit their use. Practicing safe distances and limiting the contact people have with one another is the best course of action. Whereas people must continue to leave their homes and keep other Critical Infrastructure Sectors operating. The best course of action to keep Commercial Facilities safe is to limit people from gathering in the 8 Cores:

  • Entertainment & Media
  • Gaming & Casinos
  • Lodging
  • Outdoor Events, Amusement Parks, Parades, etc.
  • Public Assemblies, Convention Centers, Zoos, etc.
  • Real Estate – Office buildings, mixed-use facilities, etc.
  • Retail
  • Sporting Events


The above information was obtained from the official website for the Dept. of Homeland Security. Visit their website for additional information: https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors

Topics: Insider, Logistics Management, 3PL, Shipping

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