Steve Green, business development manager at Genetec says that unified physical security solutions are helping the evolving energy & utilities sector.
The building portfolio of the energy & utilities sector is unlike almost any other industry. A mixture of geographically remote locations, critical installations and highly secure buildings creates a unique blend of security challenges.
Impact of renewables drive
Cross-border investments in renewable energy, combined with a convergence of oil, gas, and power utilities, mean that mergers and acquisitions are happening on a global scale adding to the overall complexity. At the same time, the sector is also moving from an analogue, scale-driven, centralised energy model to a digital and distributed model.
One of the unintended results of this transformation has been a rise in security-related challenges. Leaders in the industry are having to consider how they can standardise and centralise their solutions as they inherit legacy systems that were intended to perform in isolation. They’re asking themselves how they can secure a growing number of assets across a dispersed and expanding territory.
A unified approach
Deploying a smart unified security system is an important step towards addressing evolving security needs, while also improving operations, simplifying compliance, and increasing cybersecurity.
Blending IP security systems within a single platform and unifying video monitoring, access control, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), and intrusion, can help organisations improve their physical security and, as a result, increase their operational efficiency. For example, by using built-in people counting together with access control events, security personnel can monitor where employees, contractors, and visitors are at all times.
Industry players are responsible for demonstrating compliance with a wide range of industry-specific standards, including those for physical security. The most common physical security requirements are to record all access control activities, maintain logs for authorised access, and monitor critical facilities for unauthorised access 24/7.
A smart unified security system that optimises evidence reporting and the digitisation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) can help organisations meet such requirements. Being able to securely collect, manage, and share digital evidence from multiple sites makes it easy to meet different audit requirements.
Organisations can also use a unified security system to predefine a wide variety of criteria and create digitised SOPs to guide personnel in their responses to events. This ensures compliance across a distributed organisation since all security teams, regardless of shift or location, are always operating according to the same SOPs. This is especially important when exporting and sharing workflow diagrams and incident reports with auditors.
Smart buildings of all kinds are increasingly interconnected, helping security personnel keep people and assets safe and secure. However, this growing connectivity is increasing the risks associated with criminal cyber activity. A poorly protected camera, unencrypted communication between a server and client application, or out-of-date firmware all have the potential to be exploited by cybercriminals.
Because no single approach is enough, any solution deployed must include multiple layers of defence. Successful security solutions will need to use strong encryption, authentication, and authorisation protocols to protect data captured for management, analysis, and storage. In this way, companies can incorporate multiple and varied lines of defence to face common and emerging threats and to secure their environments.
Smart buildings within the energy & utilities sector face some unique security challenges as the industry undergoes fundamental changes. Critical infrastructure will continue to attract unwanted attention, so organisations need to work with trusted physical security partners to build stronger security strategies to both improve and protect their operations.