The world we are leaving experiences ever more frequent, long-lasting and destructive natural disasters and conflicts. There is a steady trend: shortening of the intervals between the years of increased number and intensity of the adverse impacts on people’s life and health and on the infrastructure.
The occurrence and development of crisis situations shows that regardless of the nature of the threat — military or non-military, natural, social or technogenic — people’s life and the infrastructure, maintaining their living standards as well as the progress and sustainable development, are continuously subject to devastating and destructive impacts. This pattern is also valid for Bulgaria as a country undergoing a very specific development which could be taken as an example. Over the last decade Bulgaria has every year fallen in several critical situations, resulting in victims, destructions and losses exceeding tens of millions levs (BGN).
The survey, study and practical activity on the problems of the protection of the population and infrastructure should give answer to the questions referring to the understanding, content and scope of the concepts of „infrastructure” and „protection of the population” („civil protection”) as well as outline the specifics of their interaction and correlation.
„Infrastructure” literally means underneath or referring to construction. The infrastructure is an aggregation of sectors of the national economy, providing general conditions for the functioning of this economy and for the living activities of people. The infrastructure subdivides into manufacturing, social and domestic, market etc. As to its „ownership”, infrastructure could be national, regional, municipal or corporate.
In the area of economic activity, infrastructure components include roads, railways, canals, highways, oil and gas pipelines, bridges, tunnels, dams, ports, airports, communications, interconnection and energy supply networks and many others.
The term „infrastructure” also includes the commercial network, education institutions, public health, social systems etc.
We could say in a categorical manner that in the threats/infrastructure relation only a fraction of the natural and social threats do not result in disruption of the functioning or full destruction of the infrastructure. Infrastructure threats subdivide in two major groups: systematically targeted and accidental, resulting from technology or operation deficiencies, exploitation errors and external factors.
In a number of cases, through targeted destruction of infrastructure facilities or networks, or using transportation means, it is possible to apply violence, leading to public psychosis or physical extermination of large groups of the population.
On the other hand, the reliable functioning infrastructure allows successful rescue and evacuation activities to support the population in distress. It ensures prompt access to the crisis area and successful management of anti-crisis operations.
Through communication and information infrastructure, the citizens receive information about the nature of the crisis phenomenon, the routes to leave the region and agglomeration in distress, the type of emergency, the assembly stations to form voluntary rescue teams etc. .
Infrastructure ensures timely alignment of the anti-crisis forces ready for action and their movement within the outbreak of the crisis . It helps for the supply in due time of foods, medicines, drinking water, cloths, energy resources, building materials etc. .
Targeted destruction or disruption of the infrastructure’s operation is a crime against society. It could result from military conflict, sabotage, diversions, misappropriation of property or energy or from terrorist act.
Accidental destructive impacts on infrastructure could be provoked by geographic, geophysical or geo-ecological phenomena and processes, human technical and operational errors, manufacturing defects and many others.
Protection of the infrastructure is a combination of purposeful standardized activity to preserve its facilities, networks and processes in reliable working condition. This is a continuous and very complex process .
Protection of the infrastructure is responsibility of the official state central and local structures for security, protection and defense . Specialized units from the private sector are also involved in these activities.
As to its structure, the protection includes multiple systemic solutions, activities, policies, regulations and standards, brought together in a single system . The overall process is under the control of the relevant national (union) executive authority leadership.
The state, through its institutions, develops, controls and implements the regulations and standards and prepares the necessary forces and means . The role of citizens in protecting the infrastructure is mostly indirect and is implemented through the tax mechanism and the free choice of the government leaders. Their direct involvement refers to public control by the civil society and referendums on crucial national and local infrastructure projects.
Maintaining the infrastructure in good operating condition is part of the general duties in security area [9, 12]. Broken roads, transport failures, poor maintenance of the public order in facilities for mass use, frequent breaks in energy supply, continuous traffic jams in the cities etc., result in casualties, social crisis and uncertainty of the society and country.
Full absolute protection of the respective national, regional, municipal, corporate and on site infrastructure is beyond the power of any country, region, municipality or company.
Different infrastructure facilities like highways, key railway roads, oil and gas pipelines and sea communications, have hundreds of kilometers and involve numerous specific major intermediate components (trestles, tunnels, pump stations, units, straits etc.). Walking through theses, their continuous or periodical monitoring as well as transferring mobile protection groups to repel an attack or attempt for intrusion and destruction, is complicated to be organized and accomplished and this also requires solid financial resources.
It is clear from the above examples and analysis that achieving and maintaining reliable protection of the infrastructure in conditions of systemic targeted threads is exceptionally difficult, complicated to be achieved and highly responsible sector of the respective union, national, regional, municipal or corporate security system.
In order to cut down the costs for protection, infrastructure facilities are being prioritized by their significance for the sustainable functioning of the economy, for the social development and for the security of the citizens.
The concept of „critical” („key”) infrastructure has been introduced in legislation [3-6]. Every country and every private manufacturing unit develops and implements their own methodology for critical infrastructure classification.
According to specialists, critical infrastructure means organizations, facilities and processes which destruction or the disturbance of their operation would be a threat for the life of large groups of people and for the security of the society and the country.
The Bulgarian legislation has also introduced the concept of „strategic facilities”. These are crucial infrastructure facilities and equipment on which sound functioning depend all or most of the sectors of the economy and therefore the survival of the people, society and state.
Critical infrastructure and strategic facilities are usually identified by an expert, using approaches like sectoral analysis, systematic analysis, modelling etc.
If the country, region, municipality or company is considered as a system, one of which element is the infrastructure, then critical infrastructure is that minimum infrastructure, providing for the system to be preserved.
Another issue is the protection of the population from the impacts of disasters, conflicts and destroyed infrastructure to be priority factor in establishing the security system, During the several last decades, statesmen, politicians and experts have focused on prevention, counteraction and management of the military and political crisis, military conflicts, social chaos or terrorism, and have put aside the issues of the civil protection. Situations were even reached, where the civil protection structures have been reduced to a mere appendix of those responsible for the public order maintenance. There is now in the world, but also in the European Union, an ongoing process for rehabilitation of the systems for protection of the population.
Bulgarian system for protection of the population can not stay aside of the radical changes in the civil protection of the population. Crisis situations analysis from the recent years shows that protection of the population is difficult even in situations of low degree of destruction.
The main issues in the protection of the Bulgarian population consist in the under-estimated significance and the narrowed functions of the civil protection structures; impaired coordination between the structures, which are responsible to protect the population; obsolete civil protection equipment; low efficiency of the protection activities and small capacity of the emergency rescue works; under-training of part of the leading staff for crisis management.
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4.Law on Defence and Armed Forces of the Republic of Bulgaria.
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6.Ordinance for the order, way and competent authorities for establishment of critical infrastructure and facilities and risk assessment for them, Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria, 2012.
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