Integrated Systems

Securing the smart grid, mass notification preparedness with a healthcare focus and deploying a hybrid approach

Integration" and "interoperability" are buzzwords discussed in the security industry for quite some time-do we dare say decades? The consensus is that having systems that work together is key to effective solutions for end-users in a variety of vertical markets, including residential, commercial, healthcare, transportation and others. But it's imperative that integrators, dealers, technology developers and manufacturers provide open solutions at more than just the initial handshake level and more deeply into the system solution.

If the past year is any indication or a true barometer, it's evident that end-users are aware of the benefits of open platforms and systems and integrated technology and the fact that the move to IP and networked solutions can reduce total cost of ownership and life cycle costs. Here's what industry experts had to say about hybrid transmission systems, emergency and mass notification in healthcare and emerging solutions related to smart grids.

-Natalia Kosk, assistant editor, SD&I magazine







Securing the Smart Grid

By Steven Turney

The smart grid is a relatively new term in security circles. As we head into 2011 and security standards and regulations for this area become more established, the impact on security professionals is likely to increase. With the promise of a new market come opportunities and challenges and a clear understanding of the security needs is essential.

The energy industry and utility providers look at physical and electronic security perimeters differently than most of us in the security industry. From the physical security aspect, the components that go into a smart grid solution include the following: fencing and barriers; signage; visitor management; lighting; cameras; motion sensors; card readers; and other devices. On the electronic security side, communications, networking and cyber security-related items play a role. This is unique because the physical security side of the solution is an area where most traditional security providers are not well-versed.

Before entering this area of the security market, familiarity with the governing bodies and the Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards that have been handed down to the owners and operators of smart grid structures is crucial. The CIP standards go well beyond traditional physical and electronic security installations and customers are at financial risk for noncompliance. Systems integrators need to consider wired and wireless network communications, testing and recovery plans, training and audits, as well as documentation and procedures before implementing a solution. Not all energy providers will be prepared to address the various aspects of the CIP standards on their own and will require guidance.

Each type of facility that touches the smart grid requires different types and levels of physical and electronic security solutions. A cookie-cutter approach is not enough to help ensure appropriate levels of security are obtained. Individual site assessments must be performed and each project delivery must be validated against the CIP standards to ensure compliance.

As smart grid decision makers consider their security needs, systems that go beyond the physical security requirements are of particular interest, which creates an expansive opportunity for systems integrators and manufacturers. For example, a system that offers complete automation and integration of substation systems into a centralized command and control solution helps owners and operators improve operations and enhance data flow for first responders-bringing an added benefit in the event of a security incident.

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