Source: Remote Site & Equipment Management

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Remote Site Security: Protecting Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources

As a remote site operator, supervisor or field technician you’ve seen your fair share of disparate geographical sites, each with varying levels of safety and security concerns along with extreme weather conditions. However, one concern that is not often kept top-of-mind, mostly due to competing essential needs and low operating budgets, is the emergency response and preparedness to terrorist attacks.

Catastrophic Failure

Although it may seem lofty and far-fetched for some remote site operators to believe their site might be targeted as part of an interconnected threat, directors and operators of key resource facilities must maintain their vigilance to the risk prevention, protection, and preparedness to the seriousness of these potential threats.

Poised to cause catastrophic failure to our nation’s critical infrastructure, one malicious attack to a remote critical site or key resource can be devastating to an entire population. It can leave residents and commercial businesses without water, electricity, gas or other precious resources. Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security has identified the risk to catastrophic failure as a complex mix of manmade and naturally occurring threats and hazards, including terrorist attacks, accidents, natural disasters and other emergencies. Not only can an initial attack cause harm to the targeted sector and its physical location of the incident, but it can also produce a cascading effect on all other sectors due to their dependency and interdependency upon each other’s resources.

For example, the energy infrastructure is divided into three interrelated segments: electricity, petroleum, and natural gas. This sector alone fuels and breathes life into the heart of all other resources. The incapacity or destruction of this sector would leave a debilitating impact on our safety, security, public health, economy and the continuity of our everyday life. And, although there are many safety and security measures available today, our nation’s critical infrastructure has become directly and indirectly vulnerable, pushing key resource directors to advance towards innovative security measures such as Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology (QATT).

Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology

Mesa, Arizona’s Energy Resource Department, who provides electric utility service to approximately 15,000 residential and commercial customers along with natural gas to more than 52,000 homes and businesses within a 365-square-mile area have already jumped on-board and begun capitalizing on cloud-based video surveillance services that offer Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology. QATT is any technology that is designed, developed, modified or procured for preventing, detecting, identifying or deterring acts of terrorism or limiting the harm such acts might otherwise cause.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, congress enacted The Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (SAFETY Act). This federal law provides unprecedented immunity, liability caps, defenses and other incentives available to private or governmental entities who use products, technologies or services, whether for protecting themselves or protecting others, that attempt to deter, identify, protect against, prevent or mitigate a terrorist act. In short, a company that implements technology designated or certified per the SAFETY Act has the right to seek immediate dismissal of civil claims if sued following an act of terrorism. That company also has the same right if sued for property or personal injury damages caused by failure of the QATT.

Although Mesa has not experienced any interconnected threats that warrant a matter of national security, its remote site operators and directors have found comfort knowing their key resources and critical infrastructure is safe and protected by qualified anti-terrorism technology. “The comfort of knowing that a location with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment is safe and secure is one less item to be anxious about,” said Frank McRae, Director of Energy Resources Department for Mesa. McRae quickly recognized the benefits of (QATT) and employed Iveda Solutions a DHS SAFETY Act Designated provider of real-time remote video surveillance and centralized video hosting services.

Implementing Innovative Services

Iveda Solutions’ enterprise class video hosting architecture, utilizing a secure, remote, data center, allows customers like Mesa’s Energy Resource Department to access and manage their security surveillance systems from any Web browser anywhere in the world there is Internet-connectivity. Prior to installing surveillance cameras and using managed video services, remote access to Mesa’s critical site proved challenging due to an understaffed department and lean city budgets. This in turn forced McRae to rely on Mesa’s over extended Police Department to patrol the area at random, an expensive alternative that highlighted the need for live video surveillance through cloud computing.

Cloud computing is not a new concept. However, live video surveillance through cloud computing is new. Instead of using physical security or on-site digital/network video recorders, surveillance video is centrally hosted at a remote data center. This allows end-users immediate access and retrieval of live and archived video footage; much like online banking and E-mail is accomplished through a Web browser. When using video surveillance hosted in the cloud, customers simply log in, customize their settings, and start watching their cameras no matter where they are geographically located. Cloud computing allows remote site operators to increase their safety and security measures based on immediate needs and without having to invest in new infrastructure or training new personnel. The result is usually lower cost and greater efficiencies, not to mention rapid deployment of proven and effective technology.

“It is now 2011, not 1999. Technology has evolved. There are innovative approaches to accomplishing many tasks that we would not have been able to economically or effectively see work in the past. What’s important here is that organizations need to give these innovations a try, and then develop policies for scalable and continued success,” said David Ly CEO and Founder of Iveda Solutions.
“We have a unique capability to be able to support our nation’s critical infrastructure safety and security needs through Iveda Solutions’ hosted services,” added Ly.

Using Internet-accessible cameras, hosted by Iveda Solutions, McRae, his staff, and the Mesa Police Department are now able to simultaneously gain live visual verification of events as they unfold a proactive versus after-the-fact solution. “Initially, the services were planned to catch perpetrators. Since several initial responses by PD to suspicious behavior, the potentially criminal activity has diminished,” said McRae. When asked what McRae believes to be the key success to the diminishing presence of criminal or suspicious activity at his remote site, he said, “continuous surveillance.” Although continuous surveillance may seem cost prohibitive for some remote site directors, McRae implemented a solution that he and his staff have found to be a success while operating within their budget.

Mesa’s Energy Resource Department has employed the help of Iveda Solutions’ intervention specialists to watch their critical site in real time, from a remote location during designated hours. Because operators in McRae’s department are extremely busy running critical systems and monitoring existing alarms their personnel does not have the time to effectively oversee any more sites, equipment or much less watch a live streaming video feed from their cameras, twenty-four hours a day. Instead, McRae established a protocol that allows his department to keep an eye on the cameras during the day while Iveda Solutions’ intervention specialists watch the cameras at night. Depending upon the seriousness of a situation, and the type of activity occurring on the site, intervention specialists notify his staff or the Mesa Police Department.

When McRae goes home for the night intervention specialists take over to watch his cameras in real time. When he returns to work McRae is able to quickly review any incidents through a daily surveillance report (that he receives via email) with time and date stamped snapshots, including detailed descriptions of events that were captured the night before. This solution has not only allowed McRae, his staff and the Mesa Police Department to reduce false alarms and the cost associated with dispatching personnel or police officers to the site, but has also increased the safety and security of the neighboring vicinity resulting in diminishing criminal activity and fewer graffiti vandals.
McRae’s innovative strategy for implementing the use of Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology to protect Mesa’s critical infrastructure and key resources has proven itself so effective that McRae is now committed to installing between 10 and 20 self-contained, wireless surveillance units to perform simultaneous spot checks at an increased number of critical sites and high-need areas. Since most of these disparate sites have limited Internet-connectivity these portable surveillance units are well-suited because they run on leading broadband cellular networks and come pre-configured and ready for deployment. All that is needed is power and a cellular data card.

Real-Time Security Solutions

Whether you’re a remote site operator with just one critical site or a director overseeing hundreds of disparate geographical key resources throughout the globe, you need a security solution that provides live visual verification and situational assessment of each site at a moment’s notice. With the advancement of high-speed, broadband technology and the convergence of physical security melding with Internet-based services live video surveillance and centralized video hosting through cloud computing may be the answer… Remember, the key to preventing threats and mitigating risks is having the proven and effective technology to detect and deter acts of terrorism before it happens. Vendors that display the SAFETY Act designation logo offer products and services approved as Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology, providing proven effectiveness and levels of liability protection to its users.
Jason Benedict is the marketing manager for Iveda Solutions (OTCBB:IVDA), a provider of online security technology including video hosting and real-time video-surveillance services. Iveda Solutions was awarded the SAFETY Act designation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology provider. For information, call 480-307-8700; visit www.ivedasolutions.com.

Author:
Jason Benedict
Front Cover Photography:
Jason Benedict
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