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Defining capability of Autonomous Surveillance and Telecommunications Platforms in Critical National Infrastructure (CNI).

Securing Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) against a myriad of threats, from cyber attacks to natural disasters, remains an ongoing challenge requiring innovative solutions. One of the developments in the security sector is the emergence of autonomous surveillance and communications platforms, designed to be deployed into areas which are disconnected from both hardwired power and data.

PSCIS 2 System (Kazakhstan)
PSICS 2 System (Kazakhstan)

These new technologies represent a new and potentially effective solution in bolstering the security of physical infrastructure. By seamlessly integrating advanced sensors, high-resolution cameras, and real-time data transmission capabilities, these systems offer unparalleled detection and response capabilities. Their autonomous nature enables swift and precise identification of security threats, ranging from unauthorised access to potential terrorist activities, thereby fortifying the protection of physical infrastructure assets. Moreover, their ability to provide continuous surveillance, even in remote or disconnected locations, enhances situational awareness and response effectiveness. These systems represent a transformative approach to safeguarding physical infrastructure, ensuring resilience, and maintaining the integrity of essential services.

What are the key challenges for delivering autonomous security technologies for CNI?

Terrorism and Sabotage CNI facilities, such as power plants, transportation hubs, or communication centres, are potential targets for terrorist attacks or sabotage. These incidents can cause significant damage, disrupt services, and have far-reaching consequences.

Unauthorised Access Controlling access to CNI facilities is crucial. Unauthorised individuals gaining access can pose threats ranging from theft and vandalism to more serious security breaches, potentially compromising the integrity of critical systems.

Insider Threats Employees or contractors with insider knowledge may pose security risks. Insider threats can range from intentional sabotage to unintentional errors that may compromise the security and functionality of CNI systems.

Physical Attacks CNI facilities can be vulnerable to physical attacks, including bombings, shootings, or vehicular attacks. Securing the perimeter and critical points of entry is essential to mitigate these risks.

Natural Disasters CNI is susceptible to natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, or wildfires. These events can damage infrastructure, disrupt services, and challenge emergency response efforts.

Supply Chain Vulnerabilities Dependencies on external suppliers for equipment, components, or services introduce vulnerabilities. Disruptions or compromises in the supply chain can impact the availability and reliability of critical systems.

Cyber-Physical Threats As CNI systems become more interconnected and reliant on digital technologies, cyber-physical threats increase. Malicious actors may exploit vulnerabilities in both physical and digital components to compromise CNI security.

Infrastructure Aging and Maintenance Aging infrastructure poses challenges in terms of maintenance and reliability. Outdated systems may be more susceptible to failures, and the cost of up-grading or replacing infrastructure can be substantial.

Environmental Hazards CNI facilities may be at risk from environmental hazards, such as chemical spills or radiation leaks. Ensuring proper handling, containment, and response mechanisms for such incidents is essential.

Public Access Management Facilities that are accessible to the public, such as transportation hubs, must balance security needs with public freedom. Managing large crowds and ensuring public safety without compromising security is a significant challenge.

Regulatory Compliance: Meeting and adapting to changing regulatory requirements add complexity to CNI security. Ensuring compliance with standards and regulations is essential for maintaining the resilience and security of critical infrastructure.

How could Autonomous Surveillance and Telecommunications platforms meet CNI requirements and some of their challenges?

Autonomous surveillance and telecommunications platforms are indispensable in Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) due to a myriad of capabilities and features that make them useful in fortifying security measures. The unparalleled detection capabilities, stemming from the seamless integration of high-quality cameras and advanced sensors, enable these platforms to not only detect security infringements but also pinpoint their exact source. This is crucial for timely response measures, as real-time data transmission enhances the efficiency of identifying potential threats, creating a foundation for proactive security protocols.

Going beyond conventional surveillance, these platforms can leverage advanced threat detection capabilities, machine learning, and analytics to autonomously determine the most appropriate action based on a sophisticated threat analysis. This dynamic system significantly enhances response efficiency, enabling a quick and targeted response to evolving security situations. The ability to ensure seamless communication by providing real-time visual data to a remote security centre enables operators with immediate access to critical information, facilitating informed decision-making and risk mitigation.

Solar CCTV System (Kazakhstan)
Solar CCTV System (Kazakhstan)

What are the potential benefits of these technologies in the CNI environment?

  1. Deployment Precision: These technologies, leveraging solar power and battery systems, can be deployed exactly where they are needed and do not rely on hardwired power or data installations. As the operational requirement changes, these systems can be easily and quickly decommissioned and redeployed to another location. This key advantage enables security teams to be highly responsive to changeable security requirements.

  2. Detection and Pinpointing: Autonomous platforms, equipped with high-quality cameras and advanced sensors, can effectively detect and pinpoint the source of a security infringement. Their surveillance capabilities, coupled with real-time data transmission, enable quick identification of potential threats.

  3. Threat Analysis and Action: The platforms use advanced threat detection and smart analytics to analyse detected threats. They autonomously decide the most suitable action based on the threat analysis, improving response efficiency. Usually, this might be alerts to security personnel or audible alarms in the vicinity of the threat.

  4. Remote Data Transmission: They can provide real-time visual data to a remote security centre, ensuring that operators have immediate access to critical information for decision-making. This includes relaying real-time surveillance and intelligence to fixed monitoring centres and mobile patrols.

  5. Tracking and Oversight: The platforms can track and maintain oversight of the initiation actor, meeting the requirement until ‘stood down’ by the monitoring centre. This continuous monitoring enhances situational awareness and response effectiveness.

  6. Deployable Platforms with Payload Flexibility: The deployable nature of these platforms, coupled with their payload flexibility, aligns with the requirement for carrying a range of sensors to adapt to various operational needs, including but not limited to optical sensors radar and LiDAR technologies.

  7. Redundancy and System Resilience: The redundancy features and reliability mechanisms of the autonomous platforms, including dual power sources and backup systems, meet the operational requirement for system resilience and continuous operation during component failures or deliberate destruction.

  8. Minimal Human Interface: The operational requirement for minimal human interface aligns with the autonomous nature of these platforms, which are designed to operate with minimal human intervention.

  9. Real-Time Information Relay: The platforms excel in relaying real-time information to human operators, supporting timely and informed decision-making.

  10. Manual Override Capability: The systems can be overridden to allow human security control room operators to manually take over, providing flexibility and control when needed.

  11. Encrypted Data Feeds and Administrative Protections: The platforms incorporate encrypted data feeds and administrative operator protections, addressing the need for secure communication and administrative controls. With the ability to provide decentralised surveillance, they mitigate the potential cascading effects of a cyber breach.

The deployment of autonomous solar-powered surveillance and telecommunications platforms represents a transformative approach to addressing the complex challenges faced by Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), especially in remote and disconnected locations. As operators of essential systems in energy, transportation, water, and telecommunications, securing CNI is an ever-evolving challenge that demands innovative solutions to address diverse threats, from cyberattacks to natural disasters. Autonomous platforms offer a versatile and adaptable solution, easily deployable across diverse landscapes, providing a scalable approach to meet the unique security needs of each sector within CNI.

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Published by Professional Security Magazine here.


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