Did you see “Revolution” on Monday evening? It’s a new television series that explores the dystopian aftermath of a global blackout, which leaves our heroes and heroines without any electricity or electronic devices. While this science fiction premise may sound far-fetched, attacks on infrastructure–electricity or otherwise–are actually conceivable.
As a matter of fact, I have conducted research on the aftermath of an attack on the US electricity system (with colleagues Kevin Wood and Javier Salmeron and our students).
On TV, life goes on after the global blackout, although logistical details remain unclear. Where do they get their food, candles–or even arrow heads? It’s really hard to imagine how life would continue without electricity.
Rather than trying to imagine the social implications of an attack, our research gauges the severity of an attack by estimating the demand for electricity that would be unmet over time. The more unmet demand, the worse the attack. By understanding the aftermath of an attack on the grid, we aim to better protect our electricity infrastructure.