Critical International Infrastructure: A Case for Secure, Sustainable Non-terrestrial Networking


Critical International Infrastructure: A Case for Secure, Sustainable Non-terrestrial Networking

By Dr Sandra Scott-Hayward, Polymath Initiative Fellow

Key points

  • It is anticipated that by 2030, low-latency (low Earth orbit satellite-based) Internet will be carrying many terabits per second, eclipsing traditional geostationary communications. Rather than replacing the well-connected, fibre-to-the-home infrastructure available in urban environments, satellite communication will target mobile, rural, and rapid start-up communication.
  • To facilitate the global Internet, the growth of “disposable” space infrastructure and the vast volume of space debris is somewhat at odds with the terrestrial UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • In recent years, Space has been recognised as a “critical national infrastructure” sector, with the designation of satellite constellations as critical space infrastructure.
  • Compared with the maturity of government and military space standards, the process of ensuring the security of commercial satellite operations is in its infancy.
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques are fundamental to the successful deployment of satellite mega-constellations, commercial satellite operations and space-air-ground integrated networks. The security of their implementation is paramount.
  • The UN High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence should include this critical international infrastructure in its recommendations for the international governance of AI.

Dr Sandra Scott-Hayward is a GCSP Polymath Fellow and a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) with the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and a Member of the Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). She is also the Director of the QUB Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education.

About this publication
This publication is part of a special series of Strategic Security Analysis under the Polymath Initiative supported by the Didier and Martine Primat Foundation. For more information, please visit the Polymath Initiative website: