Getting all the stakeholders to the table

Thursday, June 1, 2006

At the Security Network Critical Infrastructure Seminar this past month, I was struck by one thing in particular: No one was trying to sell me anything. Rather, everyone in attendance had already been sold on a simple concept: When it comes to infrastructure security, catching the bad guys just isn't good enough. Prevention is paramount.
In a room full of police, FBI agents, Homeland Security engineers, integrators, bankers, manufacturers and chief security officers, the air of cooperation was palpable. What good is a high-tech security product if no one knows how to use it? What good are a city's readiness plans if the power company isn't involved? What if the border patrol knew exactly what they needed to solve their problems, but nobody knew how to manufacture it?
Amy Waters, National Roadways Vector Specialist for the DHS Science and Technology Counter Measures Test Beds Program, put it this way: "There is no such thing as WMD police. There's no state or local law enforcement dedicated to finding nuclear weapons. That's why it's so important to get end users involved. You could have a great radiation detector, but if the cop doesn't use it, it's a failure."
Further, she said, "we're looking to provide end users with technology without impeding commerce." What good is a secure country if we were all out of a job?
That's why a collaboration like the non-profit Security Network makes so much sense. With members representing the classic security industry channel of manufacturer, integrator and end user, but also environmental engineering firms, IT infrastructure providers, elected officials and financial sector types, everyone with a stake in a safe environment can be at the same table, working toward a common goal--even the general public, a population that can often be seen simply as a potential market.
At the moment, the Security Network happens to be focused on San Diego, hoping to create in their city a national testing ground for security solutions. But their aim is not a regional one. Best practices help everyone in the industry, especially integrators who can sometimes be caught in the middle between an end user demanding one thing and a manufacturer providing another. If the manufacturer already knows what the cop, CSO, military officer and mayor want, it becomes a much simpler task for integrators to do the installation and service, using their expertise to make the products fit the desire.