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July 1, 2022

Threats to Municipal Information Systems Posed by Aging Infrastructure

Armbruster, Ginger; Endicott-Popovsky, Barbara; Whittington, Jan. (2013). Threats to Municipal Information Systems Posed by Aging Infrastructure. International Journal Of Critical Infrastructure Protection, 6(3-4), 123 – 131.

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State and local governments across the United States are leveraging the Internet and associated technologies to dramatically change the way they offer public services. While they are motivated to capture efficiencies, the public entities increasingly rely on information systems that are dependent on energy and related civil structures. This reliance is incongruous with the widespread awareness of aging infrastructure - decaying for lack of investment - in cities across the United States. Important questions that come up in this environment of persistent expansion of the use of digital assets are the following: What threat does aging infrastructure pose to governmental reliance on computing infrastructures? How are local governments responding to this threat? Are the solutions posed appropriate to the problem, or do they pose new and different threats? This paper uses a case involving the disruption of a local government data center due to the failure of an electrical bus to illustrate how the threats of aging infrastructure grow, quietly and steadily, into emergencies, on par with the catastrophic events encountered in the context of critical infrastructure protection. The decisions precipitating the disruption are routine, borne of circumstances shared by agencies that are pressed to maintain services with scarce resources. Patterns of capital investment and management explain the emergence of crises in routine operations. If, as in the case described in this paper, deferred maintenance motivates public agents to explore private cloud services, then governments may solve several problems, but may also be exposed to new risks as they enter into arrangements from which they are unable to exit. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Aging Infrastructure; Municipal Data Center; Capital Improvement; Interdependence