Critical infrastructure, government reps pledge closer joint work on homeland security
Protecting critical infrastructure telecom systems “means addressing the lack of adequate reliable spectrum along with the need for interoperability among all emergency responders.” — UTC president Bill Moroney
Representatives of U.S. utility, water, and other critical infrastructure organizations and officials from governmental bodies charged with homeland security responsibility discussed on-the-ground problems and pledged to work more closely together at the United Telecom Council Homeland Security Roundtable on Oct. 22 in Washington
The discussion focused on critical infrastructure telecommunications and IT systems that control power, energy and water systems and that have been identified as terrorist targets. The meeting resulted in several action items for both government and industry.
The UTC Homeland Security Roundtable included an informal, open discussion of the key security issues that affect the reliability and integrity of these systems and federal initiatives that are under way and that may address and prioritize those issues.
Creation of a nationwide emergency communications system for emergency responders, including critical infrastructure entities, was a key part of the discussions. Development of an interoperable communications system among various users would require a small, exclusive allocation of radio spectrum.
Also discussed was the need for confidentiality of critical infrastructure system data and corresponding concerns stemming from the exercise by members of the public of provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to access information.
Participants also were interested in prioritizing potential targets and their vulnerabilities within each critical infrastructure telecom and IT network. They discussed security measures for supervisory control and data acquisition systems that monitor and control core functions at utilities, water systems and pipelines.
“Protection of this nation’s critical infrastructure telecom and cyber-based systems is one of UTC’s core issues. It’s absolutely critical that we protect the telecom systems that support critical infrastructure in this country, and that means addressing the lack of adequate reliable spectrum along with the need for interoperability among all emergency responders, said UTC president Bill Moroney.
The UTC Homeland Security Roundtable was held in conjunction with a meeting of the UTC board of directors, which brought together representatives from the nation’s utility and energy companies including investor-owned, cooperative and municipal power and water utilities.
Joining the critical infrastructure representatives at the Roundtable were officials from key government organizations, including:
Office of Cyberspace Security & the President’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board
Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office
U. S. Department of Commerce
Federal Communications Commission
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of Energy Reliability
U.S. Department of Energy
National Communications System
U.S. Houses of Representatives
Connie Hughes, a commissioner with the New Jersey Public Service Commission, represented the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
Founded in 1948, UTC represents the telecommunications interests of electric and gas utilities, water companies, gas pipelines and other critical infrastructure entities, along with their technology partners. UTC has direct business members and affiliated trade associations representing 10,000 organizations throughout the world.