Snohomish County PUD began operating as an electric utility on September 1, 1949, providing public power to Snohomish County and Camano Island.
The PUD is a municipal corporation of the state of Washington, formed by a majority vote of the people for the purpose of providing electric and/or water utility service. Of the 28 PUDs in Washington, Snohomish County PUD is the largest.
The PUD’s service area consists of 2,200 square miles, including all of Snohomish County and Camano Island. The utility maintains about 5,800 miles of distribution line serving over 313 million customers.
The events of 9/11 had a huge impact on America, not to mention the way we, as a country, address the security of our critical infrastructure and resources. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security spent a good portion of its $47 billion budget in 2008 on securing Critical Infrastructure. With an influx of available funds and stronger mandates to provide the highest level of protection, many organizations that oversee our Nation’s critical infrastructure are taking a second look at the way they handle their physical security. And many of them are finding that with the right solutions and a little planning, protecting the Nation’s investment doesn’t have to be costly or difficult.
One organization that experienced this is the Snohomish County Public Utilities District.
Snohomish County PUD is a very large organization. Maintaining over 5,800 miles of distribution line, the PUD provides public power (and some water) to Snohomish County and Camano Island, Washington. This makes them the second largest publicly owned utility in the Pacific Northwest and the 12th largest in the nation.
The PUD provided protection to more than a dozen remote sites through the use of electronic access control, limited video surveillance, intrusion detection, and alarm/panic button monitoring through a central security center. Unfortunately, each system operated independently of one another, with no single solution to integrate them into awhole system. As new government regulations began to request more out of the PUD organizations throughout the Nation, Snohomish County PUD knew the feature set of their current system could not continue to meet their needs. In order to proactively solve any regulatory conflict, the PUD engaged ASG to assist in the design and implementation of a single security architecture that would allow for the integration of their access control, intrusion detection, and video surveillance systems.
ASG held a series of meetings and conducted interviews with key stakeholders at the PUD to better understand their short and long-term needs for functionality, usability, maintainability, and scalability. ASG listened to their requirements and gathered the information necessary to deliver the best possible solution, then benchmarked their existing systems against available industry options to ensure that any new system would meet the needs of the PUD into the future.
The requirement to provide a solution that was integrated with the PUD’s IT Department and its technology architecture was critical. The goal was to ensure that the security hardware and software was consistent with their IT standards, as well as maintaining the appropriate level of network compatibility.
Acting on ASG’s advice, the PUD implemented a single platform security solution that could fully integrate the various parts of their security infrastructure and meet the existing needs and future expansion requirements of the PUD. This solution allowed the PUD to manage and monitor their entire security system including each of their remote sites through a central security center utilizing one interface for the entire system. At the same time, the PUD upgraded and expanded their existing surveillance system to provide better coverage of their entire network of remote locations including power plants and dam facilities.
The PUD took advantage of a number of features in their new system to provide them with benefits that never would have been available before their integration. A few of these benefits include:
The ability to remotely monitor all of their facilities through a single software interface including panic alarms, video surveillance, access control, and intrusion detection
Automatic system monitoring that includes a pager alert to the system manager in the event that key equipment experiences a malfunction
The ability to monitor remote facilities from a single security center and efficiently respond to intrusion or panic alarms through a single dispatcher
The ability to use non-proprietary technology to easily expand the system to include new facilities
Reduced cost and time associated with training new guards on system operations
Increased efficiency of guards in their central security center
Protecting critical infrastructure is no easy task. With many remote facilities spread over a large area, effectively and efficiently monitoring and providing security for these facilities can pose a considerable challenge. But as Snohomish County PUD proves, it’s not all about the best, flashiest, and most expensive technology. More often, providing a high level of security is all about planning. By integrating the different parts of a security system into one whole unit, it’s not difficult to create a solution that reduces labor, maintenance, costs of ownership and meets the needs of the organization today and well into the future.