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Beyond Broadband: Investing in OT for Critical Infrastructure

11/29/2021 | 08:31am EST

With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, our nation begins a significant investment in critical infrastructure that is smarter, safer and designed for long term sustainability. But we should also take the opportunity to modernize operational technologies (OT). Investing in our nation's OT at this moment is critical to creating more secure and resilient infrastructure. We must think beyond broadband, making strategic investments in OT that support our roadways, water systems, subways, pipelines and utilities for the future. By leveraging the funding provided in the bill signed by President Biden, we can help foster a more inclusive infrastructure for everyone.

Broadband is now critical infrastructure

Before the development of connected digital networks (what we call the Internet today), our transportation, water, subway, pipelines and utilities were the key infrastructure networks that were considered critical to our economy, health, human services and recreation. Of course, they remain so. But the rapid expansion and acceptance of wireless and broadband technologies has provided us with a new form of digital infrastructure - and all the opportunities that it presents.

As we embark on this unique opportunity to modernize our nation's infrastructure into one that is smarter, safer and more sustainable for the long term, it is imperative that OT networks be a central part of that effort.

As we expand secure, equitable access to reliable connectivity we're seeing how broadband solutions, like those developed by Cisco (learn more), are helping bridge the digital divide. Across the nation, we're seeing that the strategic adoption of community broadband is helping to drive digital equity and greater opportunity for all. The importance of broadband to the economies, health and safety of our communities is now clear. It has become critical infrastructure. As a result, it should be funded as such.

Operational Technology now key to infrastructure success

We are also seeing digital networks expand beyond broadband to support other forms of critical infrastructure. These Operational Technology networks, or OT networks, work efficiently and in real-time to monitor our nation's hard infrastructure. This can include:

  • Automated tasks such as monitoring a switch, triggering a shutdown if a certain value in a water system is exceeded
  • Monitoring bridges for unusual stresses, speeding awareness and response to maintenance needs
  • Remote reprograming of red-yellow-green timing based on changing traffic patterns, or to allow emergency vehicles to pass more quickly.

We must also leverage funding now available from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to secure those OT networks. We must also leverage it for deployment of sensors and use cases that can advance current and future business needs. Doing so can help drive greater efficiencies, faster response times and potential costs savings. It can also create more efficient opportunities as future technologies come online. By expanding beyond broadband to deliver OT networks with automation, machine learning and other innovative services (like those that support autonomous vehicles), we can build a more inclusive infrastructure that benefits everyone.

How Cisco's CDA program is making a difference

At Cisco, we're powering the Internet of Things (IoT) to develop, implement and fund advanced use cases for OT networks. A key part of this effort is Cisco's Country Digitization Acceleration (CDA) program that is collaborating with government leaders around the world to build sustainable, secure, and inclusive communities powered by ethical and innovative technology solutions, including:

Next steps for our nation's critical infrastructure

By partnering with Cisco, state and local governments can better leverage their share of the new federal infrastructure funding that is now available for their communities. As a global leader in IT, including smart and secure OT networks, Cisco is here to help your organization invest wisely now-and for the future. We invite you to join us in building a more inclusive infrastructure for all.

Additional resources



Cisco Systems Inc. published this content on 29 November 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 29 November 2021 13:30:04 UTC.

© Publicnow 2021
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