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ENISA: Protection of Underground Electronic Communications Infrastructure

December 2014 by ENISA

ENISA has released today a new report on the Protection of Underground Electronic Communications Infrastructure. This report – targeted at Member States (MS), public institutions, owners of underground communication assets, as well as excavators and civil workers – is the first to investigate the use of automated information systems for damage prevention against civil work, and provides recommendations to increase the resilience of electronic communication infrastructures.

The report analyses the existing initiatives deployed by selected MS of the European Union – Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, and Sweden – who have developed specific tools in order to prevent the disruption of underground electronic communication infrastructure.

Automated information systems are the most advanced tools against underground infrastructure damage, used by government institutions, municipalities, excavators and underground infrastructure owners. These act as a single point of contact to prevent outages. With regards to digging, it provides:

To excavators the list of infrastructure owners with underground assets, and To the owners of underground infrastructure notifications of planned civil work.

For the purpose of the study, a survey was performed to understand the development of existing tools in relation to technical and operational use, financing schemes, and the security measures adopted to guarantee the confidentiality of data exchanged.

Further, the advantages of automated information exchange tools for the protection of underground infrastructure are presented. The principle results are summarized, providing options for improvement and an insight into future developments in the area.

Udo Helmbrecht commented on the project: “The report highlights how automated information systems can actively participate to the protection of underground electronic communication infrastructure. Strong collaboration is needed among stakeholders for the protection of underground assets, while future improvements should ease the adoption of these tools”.

The study follows ENISA’s latest Annual Incident reports, which reveals that cable cuts remain a major cause of connectivity outage. Cable cuts are mainly related to excavation performed during civil work, having an impact on electronic communications. The report highlights the benefits of the use of these tools in limiting Internet outages.

For full report: Protection of Underground Electronic Communications Infrastructure

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