Online Exclusive: Complying with Stringent Requirements

Online Exclusive: Complying with Stringent Requirements

Online Exclusive: Complying with Stringent RequirementsWe do not have to be told that security is a primary concern for every level of government. In fact, with little effort, most of us can come up with a fairly long list of security issues facing our municipal, state/provincial, and federal leaders. From securing any number of jurisdictions against on-line cyber-attacks to physical security, including surveillance, access control, perimeter protection, border patrol, and homeland security, we know that keeping citizens safe and secure is a top priority for everyone.

Most of the programs and bureaus responsible for our safety and security are managed with a combination of analog and internet protocol (IP)-based security systems that collect video surveillance content and movement data.

In the past, these groups often developed their own ways of dealing with physical security as well as with the data their programs produced.  In many instances, physical access was key-based and data storage was kept to a minimum. However, with the mounting local, global, and homeland security concerns in recent years, these methods may no longer be sufficient.

Governments are having to change their compliance standards and to increase the storage and analysis of this data. And, at every level, those responsible are turning to IP-based open systems with advanced software technology to ensure compliance and meet their goals.

Increasing Compliance Standards

Utilities, including water plants and electrical stations and substations, are key areas of critical infrastructure when it comes to the safety and security of citizens. One reliable method to ensure public safety is placing clear and stringent regulations on the physical security systems that these facilities have in place. New physical security systems can reduce a facility’s vulnerability to both cyber and physical attacks.

To meet the changing federal regulations, one electric cooperative in Texas recently announced that it will be upgrading its security system for its 32 substations, seven offices, and tower site for radio communications that cover 6,600 square miles.

Their previous system was built on a very basic analog VMS, and the access to their substations was key-based. This system left the substations vulnerable to unauthorized access and tampering and provided little to no real-time video surveillance for the security personnel. Even if this system could satisfy some of the government’s current regulations, they knew it would not be able to comply with future requirements.

In essence, government regulations are mandating that utilities implement better physical security systems that integrate advanced IP physical security, including video surveillance, access control, automatic license plate recognition, analytics, intrusion detection, and mobile management.

Unifying Security

Online Exclusive: Complying with Stringent RequirementsAfter careful consideration, the cooperative chose Security Center from Genetec, an IT-based, open platform system that unifies all their physical security requirements, including video surveillance and access control, and also manages potential alarm triggers from their perimeter intrusion system.

With Genetec Security Center software, the Texas cooperative, which provides electricity to over 52,000 electric meters, is now able to monitor its 190+ cameras and 200+ access control-enabled doors from a central operations center or from the security personnel’s mobile devices. Because the security team can see what is happening across their territory at any given moment, they now have the ability to respond faster and more effectively whenever an alarm is triggered.

Meeting Compliance Requirements for Data

In addition to keeping physical locations safe, governments in the 21st century are facing the new and quickly growing challenges related data security. At the same time, they are also managing the rising costs associated with simply having more data. 

Increased video retention requirements and the use of video analytics mean that state/provincial and federal entities are handling a lot more data, which, in turn, leads to a significant increases in bandwidth and storage. Cloud storage has proven an effective solution for managing the increase. 

To support efforts to move data to the Cloud, the US Government now has a “Cloud-first” mandate to request and evaluate whether critical systems, services, or storage can be securely managed in the Cloud. They have also stated that requisitions and request for proposals must include the possibility of archiving video footage data in the Cloud.

Support for Microsoft Azure Government

Additionally, platforms like Azure Government, Microsoft’s government community cloud platform for U.S. state, local and federal government agencies are making it easier and more secure for government entities to keep data in the Cloud.

This provides hybrid, enterprise-grade solutions that enable government agencies to run operating systems, languages, and applications in Microsoft’s government cloud, a public cloud, or in their own datacenter all while maintaining both a consistent platform and the flexibility to scale up or down on demand.

Furthermore, the stringent compliance rules set by the government help ensure that companies like Microsoft continue to provide secure access to the Cloud. For example, in order to receive Provisional Authority to Operate by the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) Joint Authorization Board, Microsoft’s Azure Government must support and maintain safeguards, including both administrative and physical security measures.

When other organizations are integrated with platforms like Azure Government, compliance is propagated even further.  Early in 2015, Genetec announced that it will support Azure Government to allow federal agencies and state and local governments to leverage Genetec cloud services, including Security Center Cloud Archives. This means that stored data will meet the stringent security and compliance requirements of government agencies, including FedRAMP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Justice Information Service (CJIS).

21st Century Solutions

Around the world, citizens rely on different levels of government and their programs for their safety and security. With the changing realities of the 21st century, these governments are focusing on ensuring the physical security of their utilities as well as maintaining the security of their data. In both instances, they are developing stringent requirements to be met by anyone providing services to citizens.

By increasing the unification of security systems—to safely share video and data across multiple networks—and storing data securely in the cloud, governments are ensuring that these requirements are being met.

Read the press release of South Plains Electrical Coop in Lubbock,TX, updated and secured its offices and substations.

About the Author

Scott Cheatham is executive manager of enterprise security integration for Contech, Inc.

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