Computer technicians and network engineers have to worry about technical problems when it comes to safety, like information security and proper authentication, disaster recovery and repair, or hardware failures. These are all common and worthwhile concerns on the scale of a computer network or information system, but when you switch over to the scale of massive industrial undertaking, the concerns become much more pronounced. Actual physical danger to workers and the technicians themselves is a very real threat, so we no longer are dealing with peoples’ livelihoods, we are dealing with peoples lives.
FukoShima and the Need for Industrial Safety
In 2011 the Nuclear Power Plant in Fukoshima, Japan had a severe meltdown following a tsunami that damaged its systems. While the Japanese officials tried to downplay the extent of the damage, it is believed to still be affecting that area of Japan as well as the entire section of Pacific Ocean and circulates near it. High radiation levels were seen as far away as California beaches, as well as in Tuna caught in the pacific. The full extent of the damage cannot be known for certain but it is clear it will take years for it to clear up.
This speaks to the massive scale of industrial safety, it can affect our ecosystem as well as the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. While computer security experts need to worry about peoples bank accounts, industrial safety experts need to worry about peoples actual lives. It’s for this reason that industrial safety products as well as proper planning and disaster preparedness have become top of mind for many officials, activists and regular citizens.
Recall the scare at 3-mile island, which threatened to affect nearly 20 million people in the greater NY area. Thankfully we did not see a full meltdown, but the possibility was very real, prompting many citizens to call for greater oversight of the facility.
Full Circle – Cyber Safety Meets Industrial Safety
We’ve spoke about how cyber safety, such as computer network security, can pail in comparison with industrial safety at the largest scales. This is however a bit of a falsity, because in today’s interconnected world, our industrial systems are increasingly connected via the Internet and other computer networks, making them prime targets for hackers and other cyber criminals.
This is even true at the scale of international espionage. It was reported that Iran’s nuclear facilities were hacked by international hackers in order to disable and destroy equipment that had the potential for creating nuclear weapons. While most people would think this is probably a good thing, the potential for adverse affects of this, should it be undertaken by the wrong people, is tremendous.
Take for example, electrical grids in countries throughout the world. These grids were built nearly 100 years ago and still have essentially the same infrastructure. A cyber-criminal with evil intentions could potential wreak havoc on the entire system, causing massive damage. So both practical safety concerns and cyber-safety concerns are a real priority in today’s day and age.