Critical Infrastructure Protection
The vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure have and continue to be exposed by natural disasters (e.g., ice storms, wildfires, tornadoes, etc.), human error, and deliberate events (e.g., Stuxnet, Solarwinds, Russian hack of the Ukrainian power grid). Many of these events have occurred within or directly impacted the Tennessee Valley and Chattanooga, which include:
- The 2008 Kingston fossil plant coal fly ash slurry spill, which covered roughly 300 acres of land and contaminated nearby tributaries of the Tennessee River. It is the largest industrial spill in United States history .
- The 2016 wildfires that consisted of three separate fires that burned over 500 acres north and west of the City of Chattanooga .
- The 2021 water main breaks in Chattanooga that impacted more than 30,000 residents .
- The 2020 tornadoes, a total of seven (7) tornadoes touched down over a 4 hour period in the Tennessee Valley in April of 2020, which left 10 people dead and caused over $1 billion in damage .
- The December 2020 bombing in Nashville exposed a single point of failure within the regional telecommunications systems that impacted 911/E911, the Nashville airport, government offices, and cellular users .
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated the following sixteen (16) critical infrastructure sectors:
- Commercial Facilities^
- Critical Manufacturing Dams^
- Defense Industrial Base*
- Emergency Services^
- Financial Services Food and Agriculture^
- Government Facilities^
- Healthcare & Public Health*
- Information Technology*
- Nuclear Reactors, Materials, & Waste^
- Transportation Systems*
- Water & Wastewater Systems*
The * indicates current areas in which UTC has conducted or is conducting work within this particular CI sector and ^ indicates sectors that UTC is well positioned to grow into due to local and regional organizations and companies that are part of these sectors.
UTC’s previous and current critical infrastructure related research has received funding from: National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Oak Ridge Institute at the University of Tennessee ([email protected]), and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC).
Research Thrust Lead:
Don Reising building research program that also provides real world opportunities for UTC students
 J. Sullivan, “A Lawyer, 40 Dead Americans, and a Billion Gallons of Coal Sludge.” Men’s Journal, August 2019, https://www.mensjournal.com/features/coal-disaster-killing-scores-rural-americans/.
 E. Gienapp, “Arson suspected in most Chattanooga area wildfires.” The Times Free Press, November 2016, https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2016/nov/12/arssuspected-most-arewildfires/397359/.
 K. Bartlett and E. West, “Chattanooga water main break: Boil advisory lifted in many parts of city Sunday,” The Tennessean, September 2019, https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/09/14/chattanooga-water-main-break-boil-advisory/2324878001/.
 D. Medina, “Tennessee tornadoes join record-breaking list of billion dollar natural disasters in 2020,” Nashville Tennessean, January 2021, https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2021/01/09/billion-dollar-disasters-us-2020-nashville-tornado-march-noaa/6597020002/.
 Y. Jeong and N. Allison, “Nashville bombing froze wireless communications, exposed ‘Achilles’ heel’ in regional network,” Nashville Tennessean, December 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/12/29/nashville-bombing-area-communications-network-exposed-achilles-heel/4070797001/.