When you got on the bus this morning to get to work, did you stop and think that anything bad would happen? What about riding the subway or train on the way home? When the train stops or the subway lights suddenly go out do you start to panic right away or do you not even notice, perhaps because it is something that has happened before that you just associate as natural when it comes to public transportation? Or what about the water that comes straight out of your kitchen faucet—do you ever wonder what processes it goes through before it reaches your home?
Critical infrastructure is all around us and a key part of life that we face every day, even if we may not realize it, and even when sometimes we take it for granted. All these aspects are key components of what makes up our nation’s critical infrastructure and in today’s economic state, whether it be security at ports, on trains and buses or even at airports, it is more prevalent than ever for security systems integrators to provide a cost-effective security solution for those end-users in critical infrastructure environments.
Since the tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the security industry has seen continuous changes, from the development of more standards to the technological innovations and solutions in access control, perimeter security, video analytics, wireless technology and much more. Still, is it safe to say that the improvements that have been made since 9/11 have been enough and better yet, should we be feeling more secure since then or have the changes over the past eight years been minimal?
An integral part in coming up with an answer to these questions is to look at how critical infrastructure is defined now and how this has changed since before the disaster of 9/11 those eight years ago. Before that period in time, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not exist, having been proposed by than President George W. Bush the following year in 2002. The Transportation Security Administration had not been created and only after the attacks did Congress also pass the USA PATRIOT Act.
“If you look at large corporations and what’s occurred since 9/11, you have executive level positions—officers of companies that never existed before like a chief risk officer or a chief security officer,” explained Bob Ryan, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing, ASG Security, Raleigh, N.C. “Before 9/11, you never had a security person or a risk person reporting directly to a CEO of the larger companies of America—today you do. There are entire organizations that have been established for these people to communicate at a peer level across industry lines and I think that the awareness, the thought process is there where it wasn’t before.”
For others, the reality of the security industry is that it continues to be more reactive than proactive.
“I am surprised that eight years after 9/11 we have made as little progress in the establishment of standards and the deployment of solutions as we had,” confirmed Jim Henry, CEO, Henry Bros. Electronics, Inc., Fair Lawn, N.J. “There’s no doubt that I think my opinion is shared by many in the industry that we expected to be much further along in the deployment of that—that’s the bad news. The good news is that this is going to happen, it’s just a matter of when and most of that business and infrastructure deployment is in front of us.”
It is clear that there are an awful lot of ways that critical infrastructure is defined because it is going to vary from individual to individual. The Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Key Resources (CIKR) divide up critical infrastructure into 18 different sectors, including water; agriculture and food; chemical; emergency services; and more, with the most recent addition of the Critical Manufacturing sector, added in March 2008. The CIKR falls under the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), published by DHS in June 2006, which organizes all 18 sectors of critical infrastructure under one unified national program.