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Illinois to lead $20 million center in critical infrastructure resiliency


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign today announced that it will lead a new center to improve the resiliency of critical infrastructure, which includes the power grid, telecommunications networks and transportation systems. The Critical Infrastructure Resilience Center of Excellence (CIRCOE) is funded through a grant  – anticipated at $20 million over five years – from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Center, supported by a consortium of academic and industry institutions, will focus on developing resilient cyber systems that run critical infrastructures as well as providing a business case for infrastructure investment in resiliency technology. CIRCOE will receive $3.4 million in its first year.

David M. Nicol
David M. Nicol
Research partners include Cornell University, Northeastern University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Stanford University, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California and University of Washington.

“Critical infrastructure systems are susceptible to catastrophic interruptions, whether it’s from natural or malicious causes,” said ADSC Researcher David M. Nicol, principal investigator and director of the Information Trust Institute at Illinois. “Our goal is to address the systematic challenges we face in making sure that infrastructures that modern life depends on continue to work, even in the face of disruptions.”

The Center will place a strong focus on how industry makes decisions about cyber assets that contribute to resiliency. Research projects will explore analysis of the cyberinsurance market as a market-based solution for cyber, resilience through the manufacturing sector, resilience governance, first responder cybersecurity, supply chain cyber-security assurance and other topics.

At Illinois, efforts will be led by the Information Trust Institute, which has strong expertise in the science of security, and the Illinois Applied Research Institute, which specializes in translational research and development.

“The DHS decision to place the CIRCOE at Illinois was based on our research team’s reputation for leadership in technology research – in particular the outstanding expertise in cybersecurity and trust in cyber-physical systems,” said Jeffrey Binder, director of ARI. “However, the University’s experience managing large-scale programs and its innovative technology transition model were also key factors in the award.”

Nicol agreed that the Center has great potential for transforming the design and operation of critical infrastructure: “We have an interdisciplinary group of engineers, lawyers, business experts and others who are all committed to quickly delivering solutions to the field.”