As concerned citizens, one of the areas of security we should be monitoring is the health of critical infrastructure.  The fact of the matter is that segments of our infrastructure are getting pretty old — to the point that the Department of Homeland Security is warning about “severe” consequences in the coming decade.  Weakening or failing infrastructure poses one of the surest risks we’ll encounter, as failed services will either create or compound problems we face during an emergency.

And this underscores the importance in emergency preparedness to check the pulse of of local infrastructure.  (See the SHTF Intelligence: Getting Started series Part 1 and Part 2 for a quick guide on setting up automated intelligence collection.)

To illustrate how bad US infrastructure is, just a few years ago the American Society of Engineers graded critical infrastructure and found that 11 of 16 segments were “Poor: At Risk” of failure.  Those segments include:

  • Dams
  • Drinking water
  • Waste water
  • Hazardous waste
  • Levees
  • Aviation
  • Inland waterways
  • Roads
  • Transit
  • Schools
  • Energy

Today, we’ll be covering about energy infrastructure.  I really like using the U.S. Energy Mapping System to identify the energy infrastructure around my area.  It’s just going to give you energy facilities, though.  (I’ll be writing more articles in the future about additional resources.)  Here’s a quick set of instructions for finding out information about your local energy infrastructure.

  1. On the U.S. Energy Mapping System website, on the top right corner of the map is a dropdown box that says, “Find Address”.  Type in your address, a neighbor’s address, a nearby landmark, or your zip code.
  2. That search is going to give you roughly 36-mile x 36-mile map (my searches did).  Pretty big area, but you’ll be able to see your nearest infrastructure facilities on the map.
  3. PRINT OUT THAT MAP and put it in your Area Study binder.  This is the binder where we keep information about our area as a quick reference in case the internet/power goes down.
  4. Then click on each individual marker on the map to get more information.  Record that information in your Area Study binder, and use a search engine to find out more information, if necessary.

The U.S. Energy Mapping System may not save the day, but it will increase your situational awareness about what’s around you and your community.  And you never know when or if this information will come in handy during a SHTF situation.

If you know of additional resources, please share them and I’ll post them to our Open Source Intelligence resources page.