Key Infrastructure for daily living

Most people in the developed world rely on supplier of essential services rather than, say, growing their own food or making their own electricity. These services are so embedded into day to day life that it makes sense to consider them as essential infrastructure. We can think of them as broadly separate services although in reality each depends on the other in ways which can be surprising or at least not well understood by the average citizen. Understandably, nobody wants to conduct real-life experiments to find out what those dependencies are, but as documented in a study of a small but significant power outage in Lancaster (UK), just about everything nowadays depends on electricity[1]. We may be approaching the stage where almost everything depends on everything else, a situation where supply difficulties in one sphere have remarkable knock-on effects in very unexpected places.

There's a case to be made for including many other critical products and services, the lack of which can have more or less serious consequences but for the moment this section focuses on the list given. As examples of those omitted: it's clear that navigation and timing information currently obtained from navigation satellites is a borderline case for inclusion above; as one of a myriad lesser examples of products whose shortages can have knock-on effects, Carbon Dioxide is a key feedstuff to the poultry[2] and packaging industries[3], the latter in particular being essential in the food supply chain[4].

The first three items in the list above, electricity, fuel and heat, can usefully be lumped into the category of 'Energy'. These are of such obvious importance to the broad economy that UK Government publishes a number of plans and analyses as part of a strategy for ensuring continuity of supply. An overview of the strategy is published as "Preparing for and Responding to Energy Emergencies"[5]


  1. Royal Academy of Engineering analysis of loss of power in Lancaster, 2016
  2. Humane slaughter association note on gas stunning of poultry
  3. Newspaper article on UK dependency on Carbon Dioxide, June 2018
  4. Cranfield report into UK food resilience, 2006
  5. UK Government plan for Energy Emergencies