Protecting the core – Critical infrastructure

Protecting the core – Critical infrastructure

Meraj Khan, business development manager – Critical Infrastructure, Axis Communication Middle East looks at how if you protect the core of your operations the benefits will be felt across the key security related areas of your organisation

What is Critical Infrastructure? Critical Infrastructure is a broad term used to describe assets that are essential for the function of our society and the economy of our country. This includes oil & gas, water, electricity, windmills, mining, hydro-electricity, data-centres and more.

In the Middle East, the primary CI segments are oil & gas, water and electricity, and these are administered by the government sectors as they play a key role as drivers of the economy.

It’s indisputable, of course, that secure and reliable critical infrastructure is vital to the economic and physical well-being of every society and the individuals who live in them. But determining the best way to protect critical infrastructure may sometimes seem less clear-cut.

An advanced and reliable path to protecting critical infrastructure is network surveillance. It delivers benefits in three areas that are key to any critical operation:

* Intrusion protection

Network surveillance presents a cost-effective alternative to both more traditional approaches and other high-tech solutions.

* Operations

Network surveillance does double duty as a valuable supplement to data from industrial control systems. It can help users better understand precisely what is happening with

their processes, and therefore reduce process downtime and improve efficiency.

* Health and safety

Network surveillance also does double duty as a way of monitoring policy adherence, evaluating risks in real-time, and improving health and safety practices.

In other words, network surveillance goes well beyond superior intrusion protection. It is also a valuable tool that can help organizations better protect the reliability of their critical operations and the safety of their employees.

Intrusion protection

Guarding vast areas from intrusion using physical barriers, analog cameras and on-the-spot manpower alone is challenging and costly. Technologies such as radio-frequency intruder detection, electric fences, long-range sensors and microwave or infrared barriers can help, but they come with a hefty price tag. Network surveillance allows users to:

  • Control access to their sites and restricted areas within it

  • Verify the validity of a threat, assess its nature – and then act swiftly and appropriately

  • Save money on false alarms and physical patrols, thanks to intelligent onboard analytics

  • Use high-quality video footage for forensic purposes

  • Easily extend and upgrade their systems as needed

All of which can be accomplished for extensive areas and across multiple sites from a central remote location.

Operations

The same network surveillance that so effectively protects critical infrastructure from bad actors can simultaneously protect an organization’s operations against inefficiency and costly

downtime.

It is a kind of double-duty that essentially doubles the return on an organisation’s investment in network surveillance – even creating an opportunity to share costs between several departments.

Security can, for example, monitor live video for intruders while process engineering monitors video for signs of equipment failure. A network-based surveillance solution can also be easily integrated with production monitoring systems (such as SCADA) allowing organizations to:

  • Visually verify production and temperature data

  • Inspect processes and verify they are running correctly

  • Visually assess reported failures

  • Facilitate predictive maintenance and trend monitoring

  • Provide remote maintenance assistance via audio devices

  • Monitor for temperature variance and leaks via temperature alarm cameras

In many cases, all of this can be done at the same time for multiple locations even when located far from each other.

Protecting health and safety

If using a network-based surveillance system to support operations is “double-duty,” then simultaneously using that same system to support health, safety and the environment (HSE) can only be called “triple duty.”

Every critical infrastructure organisation has an obligation to protect the health and safety of its workers, the public and the surrounding environment. An in-place network surveillance solution can provide effective assistance in achieving these goals at little additional cost. Organisations can use network video and access control with intelligent analytics to:

  • Visually monitor policy adherence and evaluate risks in real-time

  • Control access to restricted areas with integrated network access control

  • Keep track of the number of individuals in each area of a facility

  • Visually assess emergency situations

  • Track and support rescue teams and confirm evacuation

The result is invaluable support for tasks of life and death importance, and an additional increase in the return on investment in a network-based surveillance system.

A winning proposition

With network surveillance everyone wins. Whether you’re responsible for security, operations or health and safety in your organisation, network surveillance will help you reach your goals. First and foremost because it lets you observe exactly what’s happening at multiple sites from a central, remotely placed location. But also, because it adds an extra layer of intelligence to the systems you already have in place. Plus, the costs of network surveillance can be shared across your organisation. The result is a more secure site, uninterrupted operations and a safer, healthier workforce.

 



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