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Disaster Resilience of Digital Infrastructure

Power lines and tower. Photo: Richard Nyberg
Disaster Resilience of Digital Infrastructure


In our increasingly networked world, digital infrastructure is a 'lifeline infrastructure system' critical for the functioning of our society and economy. As the global economy progressively becomes digital, the dependence of individuals, businesses and governments on Information and Communication Technologies is increasing, especially with the expansion of the Internet, IT solutions, the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data.  

Pivotal Role of Digital Infrastructure 

The growing interdependence and interconnectedness of various systems via digital infrastructure implies that disruption to the network will have far reaching effects on services such as finance, logistics, power and linked livelihoods. 

Even though exchange of data and information happens across the virtual space, digital communication services depend primarily on technical infrastructure. These include satellites, base transceiver stations, antennas, data centres and submarine cables. Failure, disruption or damage to these due to natural hazards, man-made malevolence grievously impacts individuals, businesses and governments. Disruptions also lead to loss of assets and spill-over effects that are often unaccounted for.

Digital infrastructure also play a vital role in post-disaster response, recovery and reconstruction phases. Failure, disruption, or damage to the physical infrastructure due to hazards, impacts individuals, businesses, and governments, either directly or indirectly. Direct impacts include loss of assets as well as disconnection of users, including government agencies and first responders. As frequency and severity of disasters are increasing, there is an urgent need to adapt and transform the digital infrastructure network. 

CDRI’s Contribution

The telecommunications sector is largely within the private domain. Therefore, collaborative and coordinated efforts between private and government stakeholders are necessary to improve its resilience by setting global best practices and standards in planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and management. 

CDRI proposes to study and provide inputs to build the resilience of this infrastructure sector, keeping in mind the following considerations: 

  • Information on the changing climate and vulnerability of assets and networks can help decision makers plan for uncertain futures. The first step will be to assess the climate and disaster risk to digital infrastructure assets and networks. 
  • CDRI will work with private and government stakeholders to develop an enabling environment at the global, regional, national and local level to ensure decisions towards a resilient future.
  • In the underlying context of countries with different infrastructure capacities, CDRI will undertake the preparation of performance-based standards and global benchmarking for disaster resilient telecommunications infrastructure.
  • The CDRI will also convene and explore dialogues on emerging technologies such as 5G, AI, IoT and Big Data, such that they can aid in preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation processes.