Longwatch selected for EPA's WaterSentinel program

Monday, January 1, 2007

NORWOOD, Mass.--Longwatch announced in December it has been selected by the Environmental Protection Agency to participate in its WaterSentinel program, created to address a portion of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9, which outlines food and water protection. WaterSentinel will use Longwatch to comply with a mandate in HSPD-9 for a comprehensive and fully coordinated monitoring system that will detect and respond to drinking water contamination threats. The pilot project will be deployed throughout the spring of 2007.
As many utilities have remote sites that must be protected, Longwatch's system works as video verification of alarms that previously had to be investigated by remote site visits. Longwatch executives believe the company is uniquely suited to video monitoring at water utilities because its Longwatch Video Surveillance System is integrated with the SCADA system, which utilities use to control the rest of their facilities.
"The beauty," said marketing head Joe Siderowicz, "is that all that communication infrastructure is already in place. You can add video, but you don't need to run any cable or anything." After motion is detected, for example, pre- and post-event video from Pelco cameras is conveyed wirelessly to the SCADA infrastructure. "Then, if you want to get it streaming, you can get that," said Siderowicz.
Pete Nardi, community relations manager at Hilton Head Water District, confirmed SCADA "has its great uses in things that are remote ... You see the gallons per minute on a well, the level of water, any kind of alarms ... it's just a way of sending messages back and forth."
Founded in the third quarter of 2005, with product getting to market at the beginning of 2006, Longwatch is headed by executives with experience developing SCADA communications apparatus, said Siderowicz, who saw an opportunity in surveillance.
Currently, the company is doing its own integration and installation, but "the installation is a skillset that the SCADA guys don't have," Siderowicz said. "We need installation partners. I'd love to connect with them ... [but] the SCADA integration is a really tricky little deal. The question of the day is whether the typical security integrator can sell this? Well, not unless they're committed to working with SCADA."
Siderowicz said the company has 20 installations throughout the United States, with another 30 underway, "and a huge backlog." When you consider that winning a job with the city of Los Angeles, for example, would mean installation at 900 remote sites, "we could never get that done right now."
The WaterSentinel program may be the path toward more business. It is backed by an initial outlay of as much as $49 million in EPA funds. According to EPA literature, the agency hopes to "design and demonstrate an effective system for timely detection and appropriate response to drinking water contamination threats ... through a pilot program that would have broad application to the nation's drinking water utilities."
However, Nardi wondered about the necessity of the program: "Surface water already contains a lot of organisms that [water utilities] do already treat before it goes to the public," he said. "It's already part of what they're doing. It takes a big event to actually affect a surface water supply."
Longwatch's next market push will be toward the petro-chemical market and other utilities that use the SCADA communications protocol.