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Integrating Security into Utility's Management Portfolio A Case Summary

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Since 9/11, utilities have done the obvious things to position themselves and improve their security. They have assessed their vulnerability, built appropriate fences and barriers, documented scenarios about what could happen, improved their security practices, and trained staff members. The question that remains is: Is it enough?

In this age of terrorism, there is only one certainty: Utilities are vulnerable to virtually any kind of attack. A terrorist with even the most limited knowledge of utility systems, coupled with skills in using guns, explosives, and contaminants, can do much harm.

Through vulnerability assessments, utilities may discover areas within their existing security systems that are ineffective, including the lack of proper equipment and preparation by state and local law enforcement to stop the most modest of terrorists. Choosing where and how a utility should spend precious financial resources is essential to addressing any security problem. As it is today, security spending varies dramatically and utilities should approach spending in a uniform way. Doing all that can be done with technology makes the best sense for both the utility's safety and financial viability by leveraging the utility's workforce effectively.

This paper is based the result of two years of work training with more than 100 organizations, executing more than 30 vulnerability assessments, and developing many solutions for water/wastewater and electric utilities to reduce their risks from terrorism. This paper highlights the state of the utility industry in terms of vulnerability and will present the top 10 strengths and the top five weaknesses that were documented in the work.

The paper discusses strategies a utility can use to overcome and manage the risks associated with security needs today as well as prepare for a changing future. A utility's key strategy is to make the best use of the utility's response capabilities to stop the terrorist from accomplishing their objective. Utilities can do a lot today with the resources they have to prevent or reduce the impact of a terrorist's acts and this work also can provide other benefits. By focusing on response, utilities can understand what they should and should not do.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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