The critical infrastructure remains in the spotlight, even more than 10 years after 9/11. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the goal is to build a “safer, more secure and more resilient America.” And that’s where the savvy systems integrator can step in big time with the right training and armed with information on what to deliver, how and when.
Frank Koren, business development manager at ARINC Inc., Annapolis, Md., said the government, on both a state and federal level, has changed its security expectations for critical infrastructure sites.
Koren said critical infrastructure facilities requiring increased on-site security include airports, nuclear power and other utilities; water treatment and waste management facilities; rail and public transportation; chemical manufacturing and oil storage locations; education campuses; and a wide range of other mainstay government buildings.
Although security has been growing increasingly high-tech, at the same time, Koren said: “hackers have become smarter so critical infrastructures are requiring more security measures than ever before.”
But the trend, Koren continued, represents not so much the creation of new technologies as the integration of existing ones to form a more complete and proactive defense. “Many security manufacturers want their products to be everything to everybody,” said Koren. “But in reality, end-users tend to focus on specific things that will result in comprehensive security for their site.”
The full range of intrusion detection, video surveillance, identification, access control and other security functions continue to be used, but the trend now, Koren said is towards mutually supportive capabilities. “For instance,” said Koren, “a program designed to prevent access until you prove your identity is now being integrated with external databases so there is a much higher probability that you are who you say you are.”
All this means the integrator plays an increasingly important role in this arena, Koren said. “The integrator is expected to have comprehensive knowledge of the facility’s security, to make sure all the different components work together, and that he remains the single point of contact to maintain the lifetime security system management.”
Jeff Gaskin, operations manager for Allied Fire & Security in Spokane, Wash., also agreed that combining technologies makes for more comprehensive security.
Integration rules the roost
“The software for access control systems is becoming more robust,” Gaskin said. “Now when a person shows his card at the reader, the process is integrated with video for added clarification, which in turn is connected to the video alarm with a person on the system watching.”
“The commercial side especially demands more video,” Gaskin said. “At utility sites, there are substations quite dispersed, and managers want to see who’s getting in with integrated access and video.”
In the area of video, especially, Gaskin continued, “The technology is always getting better. Terabytes now increase storage and handle more information. Megapixel cameras provide better quality pictures, allow you to both watch a gate and zoom into a license plate and enable you to search by date and time.”
In addition to terrorism concerns regarding facilities, Gaskin said that “many employers are increasingly looking out for the safety of their employees, such as having video watching parking lota. For instance, we recently did a Veteran’s Administration building in Spokane. But the majority of the product was used for perimeter protection and the parking lots.”
Alerts and notification
Gaskin also said that recent incidents of violence on campus “have resulted in many mass notification systems. Not only does the fire alarm sound, but announcements go out over the public address system campuswide, coupled with the use of varying colors to signify different warnings. For some areas and conditions, such as tornado warnings, mass notifications go out to the entire community.”
The term “connectivity” is usually used in conjunction with high-tech. But Michael A. Novak, sales account manager, instructor and vice president of the personnel protection program at Spokane, Wash.-based Kodiak Security Services, believes the human factor is still critical in security and, in fact, enhances the technological aspect.
“We found that most security firms providing guards might train them with eight hours of video and eight hours hands-on,” Novak said. “But we also provide 400-plus hours of additional training. We provide practical and tactical handcuffing, baton, pepper spray and other procedures. But, on top of that, we teach aggressive management behavior, or how to understand people’s body language. How is he standing, or folding his arms or walking? Is there something about him or her that bears watching?”
Much of Kodiak’s work in this regard is done at the Spokane International Airport. One of its services is providing anonymously appearing guards for VIPs. Novak recalled one incident in which “a man displayed a certain body language. Actually, it was the way he walked, which alerted us. He stood out a little, so we were able to stop something bad from happening.”
Body language and observation
Novak explained that these observational techniques, again from people who appear to be simply other passengers, are used to enhance established technology. For instance, the boarding screening is felt by many to be too intrusive. But, as the recent news has shown, a terrorist plot to get a man with a bomb implanted in his buttocks was foiled not by the screening procedure, but by a ‘mole’ who infiltrated the terrorist group. Therefore, Novak said, his company has guards who appear as other passengers observing those who go through the screening points, to try to spot any telltale body language.
This system also works in conjunction with a wireless camera, a system which can be located a few miles away or up on top of a building. “If we see something that just doesn’t look right, our best officers are alerted.”
The critical infrastructure and perimeter security go hand in hand, and it takes a variety of techniques and tactics to get the comprehensive coverage the end user needs to protect people, places and assets.
Thomas Dolan is a freelance writer to SD&I magazine.