Networks of Networks: Systemic Risk and Infrastructural Interdependencies (NetONets2012)

Venue: Chicago

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Event Date/Time: Jun 19, 2012 End Date/Time: Jun 19, 2012
Report as Spam


In finance, Systemic Risk is the risk of collapse of an entire financial system or entire market, as opposed to the risk associated with any individual entity, group or component of a system. In an interconnected world, the concept of Systemic Risk goes well beyond the financial sector.

Our society relies on Critical Infrastructures, the essential assets for the functioning of everyday life; most of such infrastructures are networks and therefore amenable of Systemic Risk. A clear example are the recurrent and perhaps unavoidable outages (black-outs) in power grids.

In order to protect the roots of our society, several techniques have been developed to model, analyse and simulate the behaviour under severe disturbances mainly of technological critical infrastructures like telcom, water, gas, power distribution and transport. The recent economical crisis has reminded us that even more abstract entities like inter-bank loan networks have to be considered as Critical Infrastructures.

Despite its impressive expansion, the Critical Infrastructure Protection community has not yet benefited of the recent breakthroughs of the Complex Networks community. This is due to the different level of abstraction of the approaches and to an existent cultural gap between the two communities. This satellite meeting intends to establish a bridge between the two communities, thus creating a shared vision and posing the basis for an eventual integrated multi-scale approach to the Critical Infrastructure governance. Succeeding in this objective would already be a valuable achievement.

The common ground of the future for the joint community is the assessment and understanding of interdependent networks. The case of Estonia in 2007 reminds us that none of the infrastructural networks is an isolated object: the effects of an informatic “accidental” attack propagated its malicious effects to all the aspects of everyday life thus revealing how even a home computer may provide access to a Critical Infrastructure and therefore it may represent a potential source of threats.

Technological knowledge is presently dispersed among experts of different sectors: electric system operators (producers, transporters and distributor), gas operators (extraction, transport, storage, distribution), telecommunication operators (carriers, internet service providers, broadcasting companies, telephone companies etc), food chain operators, water supply or fuel operators etc. However predicting the global response of our social organizations to undesired severe events requires a common language to integrate the knowledge of all sectors and describe the mutual dependencies. We believe that Complex Networks can be the common language for the needed federated approaches at both microscopic and macroscopic level. Understanding the global features while keeping accurate high granularity description of phenomena represents a mayor task involving the two communities.


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