Utility Week

Utility Week 5th June 2015

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UTILITY WEEK | 5TH - 11TH JUNE 2015 | 25 Operations & Assets Market view S afety and security go hand-in-hand in the utilities industry. Utility pro- viders are accustomed to protecting their assets against the and vandalism, but they increasingly have to consider the threats of trespass and even terrorism while maintaining safe operations and working environments. Taking a considered, strategic approach to crime prevention can make a significant difference to utility security. By having a better understanding of risks and vulner- abilities, utilities can ensure crime reduction measures are effectively targeted, minimising waste and making the most of budgets. Realistically, it is never possible to protect all assets at every substation or water site to the same security specification – the costs would be prohibitive. Instead, by taking a strategic approach, organisations can make more informed decisions and prioritise what is at greatest risk, rather than being reactive or investing in costly security that does not effectively address real problems. Utilities should consider that, with fewer police resources available, the likelihood of a timely police response to an alarm is lim- ited and criminals will factor this in when choosing their targets. Similarly, CCTV is dependent on police having time to inspect the footage and, of course, even the best cameras can be defeated by a scarf over the face. With more police cuts on the horizon, this situation is only going to get worse. Forensic traceable liquid specialist SmartWater is seeing the effects of these developments on the ground. A team of its investigators was recently called in by a water company to investigate an incident at one of its rural clean water sites. The company had limited CCTV and telemetry to ensure any tampering with pumps could be spotted, but that was the extent of the security – as is oen the case in remote locations. The main generator on the site needed to be serviced so a temporary generator had been brought in as backup. Sadly, thieves broke in and stole the genera- tor's copper cables, paying little attention to the CCTV cameras. Through predictive analysis, our inves- tigators were able to put forward an intel- ligence assessment that indicated a high probability that the site would be targeted again, because the thieves would know that the stolen cabling would be replaced. A cov- ert operation was subsequently deployed using CCTV and forensic marking, which was applied to diesel tanks, making them uniquely identifiable. When the site was attacked again a few days later, the covert cameras alerted our monitoring centre, and captured the vehi- cle's details along with high-definition foot- age of the thieves in action. Sharing the footage with police led to the prompt arrest of a group with traces of traceable liquids on their clothing and vehicle, which will provide valuable evidence when the case goes to court. More important, no further thes have been reported since the arrests were made. Remote sites are oen the most suscep- tible to crime, but identifying the sites that are most at risk can be difficult. Historically, utility providers have waited until aer an incident has occurred before taking action, and when they do they adopt a "more of the same" attitude, implementing outdated and costly security measures. Clearly a change in mindset is required, shiing utility providers away from tradi- tional measures and towards a more method- ical approach. By understanding local threats and deploying measures that have a proven track record of detecting or deterring thieves, it is possible to achieve significant crime prevention results, putting a stop to the, trespassing and vandalism before they even occur. By taking the time to analyse vulner- abilities in detail, it is also possible to iden- tify secondary threats, such as damage to perimeter fencing that may require repair or bolstering. Recommendations can then be made to ensure appropriate measures are being deployed at the right locations, such as covert cameras at access routes to iden- tify would-be thieves and trespassers. SmartWater traceable liquids can also be deployed at high-risk locations to protect vulnerable assets, allowing for the owner- ship of these assets to be conclusively proven if stolen. With utility companies increasingly wor- ried about trespass and vandalism, it is critical that they feel able to deter as well as detect criminal activity. In our experience, forensic traceable liq- uids are an effective deterrent because they are well known by the criminal fraternity. Conducting community engagement pro- grammes in areas surrounding our clients' crime hotspots helps raise awareness that sites are protected and discourages criminals from entering sites where they see SmartWa- ter signs. Aside from trespassing and break-ins, another key driver influencing utility com- pany security spending is the heightened threat of terrorism around the globe. This has prompted fears of attacks on national infrastructure and can be a cause for concern in urban areas, not just rural spots. It is a worrying fact that the critical laby- rinth of pipes, wires and cables under the ground is accessible though a common ave- nue – manholes – the majority of which are not secured. This lack of protection provides a means for terrorists or vandals to disrupt and damage the country's infrastructure with the potential for injury or even loss of life. Fortunately, new technologies are availa- ble that combine ways of effectively securing manhole covers against unauthorised access with the application of traceable liquids, which can help bring criminals to justice. The utilities sector must be one step ahead of the criminal fraternity constantly to maintain safe and secure operations. There is no single solution that will solve all security problems, but having an informed understanding of the risk of crime can help an organisation make the right choices about its short, medium and long-term secu- rity strategy. Phil Cleary, CEO, SmartWater Be smarter about security Intelligence-based threat assessments could cut spending on security and help utilities face up to rising risks in an age of remote asset operation and terrorism, says Phil Cleary.

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