Companies combine for critical infrastructure

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006

HERNDON, Va.--Building on a project in Helena, Mont., funded by the Transportation Security Administration in 2003, integrator Abeo has taken those tests of new technologies for perimeter security and built the Strategic Infrastructure Protection Consortium. It is a collection of like-minded security firms who've come together to offer "state-of-the-art technology that really solves the critical infrastructure problem that exists in the United States today," said Michael Borcherding, president and chief executive officer at Abeo and the director of SIPC.
Founding members include system designer CT Solutions; GCS Research, which specializes in geospatial technology that combines data with geographic information; Knowledge Vector, a risk-assessment firm; and Vidient Systems, which provides video analytics.
"Abeo is the air traffic controller," said Borcherding of his company's role as systems integrator.
Already, SIPC has a core solution for protecting critical infrastructure that will soon be on the GSA schedule, and has recently signed contracts to expand the solution into a Potomac Basic Security System that will provide umbrella coverage across the Basin area. The solution will also be deployed at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport throughout the latter part of this year.
The three main pieces, said Borcherding, are the rules engine, essentially video and data analytics that determine what's deserving of an alarm and what isn't; the geospatial environment that allows the end user to experience all of the incoming alarms through one monitor with an accurate feeling for the entire environment in which the alarms are occurring; and the wireless mesh back-haul, which Abeo provides, drawing on its past in wireless systems development.
Despite the inclusion of a couple of suppliers, Borcherding said the consortium will be product agnostic, and based on an open-architecture philosophy.
"That's part of the main purpose of the consortium," he said, "to meet the end needs of the end customer. If, for instance, they have a technology that's there and existing, and they want that incorporated, we're certainly interested in doing that. The important thing is to incorporate the legacy technology and the new solution into a common picture of what's out there.
"If an end customer is really in love with a certain type of technology, we'll work with them, but they won't necessarily be part of the consortium."
What of future members?
Borcherding said, for instance, they're looking for a company that makes a seismic sensor, but, in general, it's important that potential members have stable platforms that have been tested in real-world deployments and have been shown to be robust. Further, he said, it's important "that they're the type of company that isn't just interested in turning a profit, that they're interested in being part of something bigger, that they have the end-goal in mind to secure the country's infrastructure."