Going the Distance

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.

“Those 18 critical infrastructure key resource sectors are divided as such in order to improve the way we communicate and tailor our messages to critical infrastructure owners and operators and also the way that we can get information from them for decision-making and to help provide them with these owners and operators that they need,” said Steven King, director of the Contingency Planning and Internet Management Division within the office of Infrastructure Protection, DHS. In his session on Critical Infrastructure Protection Tools and Resources, presented just the past month at ASIS, King reiterated how he hoped that attendees were able to walk away understanding the information-sharing mechanisms that DHS recently developed.

“I would love for all critical infrastructure owners and operators to know who their local protective security advisor is within their area,” continued King. “From the office of infrastructure protection, we have these PSA’s deployed out in the field all the time and they know the people in the area, especially critical infrastructure owners and operators. These PSA’s can provide security vulnerability assessments, help get these owners and operators plugged into the local response officials and to the state level officials and even during a significant incident, these PSA’s can get them plugged into the federal response officials. The PSA’s as well as the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center and other resources we’re providing—I want them to be aware of these resources and make use of them.”

Funding for security

A report released in 2007, according to the U.S. Homeland Security Market Outlook, forecasted that in private sector markets, $28.5 Billion of HLS products and services were to be procured from the HLS industry during 2007 to 2011 by the private sector. These markets are analyzed and segmented by industry sectors: banking and finance; chemical and hazardous materials; energy; and water and in the products/services category procured: perimeter protection systems; cyber terror security; and biometric systems.

But 2009 meant the start of a new year and proof was only in the making as newly-elected president Barack Obama enforced the economic stimulus package, called the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” Initially, the package was put forth to provide assistance to low- and middle-income Americans, strengthen the nation’s infrastructure and invest in states that are struggling with falling revenues, with the goal of creating or preserving at least three million jobs over the next two years. Yet, with America’s infrastructure receiving a 2009 GPA grade of D, with roads, wastewater, levees, inland waterways and drinking water rounding out the lowest of the critical infrastructure sectors included in the report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Reston, Va., it was clear that critical infrastructure was lacking the security funding and attention it much needed.

According to ASCE, $2.2 trillion is needed over the next five years to repair and restore the nation’s infrastructure. Of the estimated $787 billion dollar stimulus funding, which faces a possible dollar increase if the economy continues in its recession state for a long period of time, the following, provided by the Security Industry Association (SIA), gives us an outlook of where we can expect to see those dollars going towards security in critical infrastructures:

  • Port Security Grants --$150 million
  • Public Transportation Security/rail Security Grants–$150 million
  • Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology--$100 million
  • CBP Land Ports of Entry Construction --$420 million
  • TSA Checked Bags/Checkpoint Explosives Detection--$1 billion
  • Airports Grants-In-Aid--$1.1 billion
  • National Railroad Passenger Corporation Capital Grants--$450 million

As cited on www.recovery.gov, created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, of the $787 billion, $288 billion is distributed towards taxes; $275 billion towards contracts, grants and loans (as reported under Section 1512); and $224 billion to what is known as entitlements (e.g. Medicaid and Student Loans). Of the funds announced, 17 percent have already been distributed across the country and some in the security industry are seeing the rewards of that.

“When it comes to stimulus money, PSA has been quite pleased,” said Bill Bozeman CPP and CHS and president and CEO of PSA Security Networks. “We’ve received several millions of dollars in work that we feel is directly attributed to the stimulus money. Of that, we received a $1 million order for video surveillance at the New York City Housing Authority. We’ve also had some airport projects that we know of, as specified by our member integrators.”

Still, much of the distribution of the stimulus funding is in the process and according to HBE’s Jim Henry, the perspective of how the rest of that funding is going to be distributed should be clearer by the spring.

Integrators face the challenges

But it is not just up to the president to try and improve the country’s critical infrastructure. For security systems integrators, the road ahead can be either positive or negative, depending on each company’s outlook as to what is going on in the economy and how they prepare for that.

“I think the greatest challenge is going to be tracking that money, being in the right place at the right time and positioning yourself for that,” continued Henry. “The implementation quite honestly is less of a challenge than navigating through the complexities of the procurement process and being proactive to win those contracts.”

Many changes we are experiencing in the security industry today—the continued convergence between IT and IP; the increasing developments in compression technology in video surveillance and video analytics; and even the continuously increasing presence of security of data across wireless mesh networks in secured environments—will continue to challenge the job of the systems integrator and their task of providing integrated solutions.

“I think systems integrators have become more aware of the vast amount of technology that they’re able to apply to a solution, more so than previously,” said Ed Troha, managing director of Global Marketing, Object Video. “Systems integrators of years past would often times incorporate hardware and some software and lots of analog-type devices. Now, IT and software and IP play a much greater role and it requires them to become more IT-savvy to be able to remain competitive.”

With water and power being two very basic but essential necessities of critical infrastructure, some security providers see sabotage as a real threat, with people’s lives and health being at risk.

“A primary concern to utility sites is physical attack on their facilities that would inflict damage to vital infrastructure and potentially after the power and water delivery or public and environmental health and safety,” explained Maira Zanrosso, director of Marketing, Southwest Microwave, Tempe, Ariz. “For water utilities, these acts can threaten raw water supply water treatment plants and storage or distribution facilities.”

Yet for the systems integrator, there is still a lot of trial and error as challenges in critical infrastructure environments become demanding the more extreme an environment or situation can be.

“Unlike traditional, commercial industrial protection strategies, you’re dealing with pushing a perimeter that goes far outside of the physical building itself,” explained Bob Ryan, ASG Security. “There’s a lot of open area, a lot of spaces, there are very indefinite physical security boundaries and that is where protection gets very difficult.”

What’s new with perimeter

The perimeter security market is growing, according to DHS, and that growth offers many opportunities for niche security vendors and integrators. According to market research firm Frost & Sullivan, the main boost in airport security will come from networking. A greater number of airports are switching to digital networks, making it necessary to network all security solutions to the main command and control and communications center.

It is clear that perimeter security is an essential part of certain areas of critical infrastructure and in moving with the speed of technology, solutions providers and integrators have to tune into what it is that there end-user is really asking for.

According to Andy Teich, president of FLIR Systems, Electron Multiplied Charged Coupled Device (EMCCD) low-light color technology, implemented on two of FLIR’s new cameras debuted at ASIS, is a new technology that the industry will be seeing more of in the security sector because of its capability. “Really, it’s the only technology in the world that provides color low-light imaging and it’s in an extreme low-light scenario.”

With technologies maturing, detection systems and sensors are continuing to get more accurate, according to Henry. “The software, or PSIM systems that tie the different elements together along with video and access and other types of Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosive (CBR7E) sensors are all part of the overall security solution for situational awareness and response.”

What’s available now in security compared to what was available 10 years ago is a real juxtaposition, like day and night. For perimeter security to continue to advance to the next level, especially in critical infrastructure environments, it will be necessary for solutions providers and resellers to be able to look at the overall picture and that picture is deeply entrenched in integration. Security solutions have to go beyond just creating a single product and presenting it to a customer. Technology in security will only continue to progress forward and as that happens, the need for more interoperability will gain prevalence in the eyes of the end-user and it is only a matter of time before that happens.

18 Sectors of Critical Infrastructure

Agriculture and Food

Commercial Facilities



Information Technology

Postal and Shipping

Banking and Finance


Defense Industrial Base

Government Facilities

National Monuments and Icons

Transportation Systems


Critical Manufacturing

Emergency Services

Healthcare and Public Health

Nuclear Reactors, Materials

and Waste




1) The nation doesn’t see infrastructure protection as an urgent national priority

2) Emerging convergences will reshape how we define and prioritize infrastructures over the next 15 years

3) We need strong cross-sector analysis and advisory capability to better understand impacts of emerging conditions and interdependencies

4) Government institutions are unable to meet the needs of our rapidly changing society

5) Infrastructure failures have widespread regional impact and involve many sectors

6) No single incentive will encourage all infrastructure stakeholders. Different incentives will apply to different types of infrastructures

7) There is a lack of understanding on how conditions, convergences and challenges will affect the emerging future infrastructure

8) Adversaries make decisions and plan attacks much faster than our government

Data courtesy of Toffler Associates, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Infrastructure Protection.


Improvements Since 9/11


  • TSA has deployed 1,200 Explosive Trace Detector machines to passenger screening checkpoints.
  • On 9/11, five percent of checked baggage was screened. Whether checked or taken as a carry-on, TSA now screens 100% of all checked baggage utilizing enhanced technology that quickly determines whether a bag contains a potential threat to aviation security.
  • Background Checks for Truckers Hauling HAZMAT.


  • Development of the Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC) for individuals requiring daily access to these critical facilities.
  • Scanning 98% of cargo in our seaports by the end of 2008.
  • Establishing the “Global Standard” for cargo and port security.


  • Screening Visitors to the U.S. Against Watch Lists and Criminal Records.
  • Ending “Catch-and-Release.”


  • $18 Billion has been awarded to state and local governments to increase their level of preparedness.
  • Initiating the National Response Coordination Center to proactively respond in catastrophic situations.
  • Establishment of the National Response Plan (NRP).

Information courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security Fact Sheet, 2006>