According to Gartner's latest CIO survey, 94% of Energy, Oil & Gas Utilities' IT leaders prioritize location and cybersecurity, 38% are investing in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning and 17% in the Internet of Things including sensor-based video technologies.
Energy, Oil & Gas Utilities are facing increasing pressure to reduce costs through automation while facing revenue shortfalls due to regulatory compliance costs and suspension of disconnections due to customers' hardships during the pandemic.
Energy, Oil & Gas IT departments are leading the convergence of cyber- and physical security, often relying on video cameras as sensors to gather thermal, infrared and night vision video streaming that provides the raw data feed video analytics systems need to find anomalies in operations or security.
Through the many challenges of operating in 2020, Utilities are learning how vital it is to have a 360-degree view of their operations' physical and cybersecurity. Protecting the perimeters of their remote and headquarter locations is the highest priority to 94% of North American CIOs recently surveyed by Gartner. In another recent survey, just 54% have a Security Operations Center according to a recent Black & Veatch survey titled, 2020 Strategic Directions: Smart Utilities Report.
Why AI & Video Analytics Matter: Physical and Cyber Attacks Are Orchestrated to Bring Down a Utility
What keeps CIOs up at night is the thought of how a physical and cyber-attack on any remote location could cripple and perhaps force a Utility to shut down to recover. That's why having real-time monitoring of remote locations using various cameras to capture thermal, heat and night-vision data analyzed in real-time using video analytics is so important. Leaders in this area include Twenty20 Solutions, which offers a series of solutions that encompass remote video security, remote access control, portable surveillance, temporary deployments, automation and control and real-time remote monitoring. Their use of video analytics, AI and machine learning can identify potential assets, machinery and remote site security risks in real-time. An example of how Twenty20 Solutions implements video analytics is shown below:
Utilities' CIOs, CISOs and IT leaders need to consider how they can integrate AI and video analytics into their enterprise security strategy today. Using video cameras as sensors, every threat surface a Utility business has can be monitored 24/7 and, when combined with software, secured to every endpoint.
IBM's X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, 2020 Report provides a stark wake-up call to any CIO or IT leader of a Utility company. Here are the key takeaways of IBM's research into Utility risks:
According to IBM's X-Force Threat Intelligence Index this year, the energy and utilities industry is the 9th-most targeted industry.
Utility companies prove to be rich targets for remote physical and cyberattacks due to their importance as the backbone of every country's critical infrastructure.
What sets the energy industry apart from others is the possibility of physical disruption and destruction of Industrial Control Systems (ICS) systems and the SCADA systems that manage them.
A successful attack on an ICS system designed to disrupt operations can have devastating effects on customers who rely on power, gas, oil, or any other resources provided by the energy sector.
How AI and Video Analytics Reduce Risk with Real-Time Monitoring
Knowing which production processes, machines, work centers, and product lines are operating at high-quality levels and which aren’t is essential for keeping remote operations running smoothly. Having real-time data to use in SPC for continually tracking, controlling, and fine-tuning remote manufacturing processes is key. Setting up alerts in SPC Modules to alert quality management, production engineering, and scheduling when there is a deviation in performance can help avert millions of dollars in lost production time and avert having to replace remote production assets as well.
1. Use thermal, infrared and night-vision cameras to achieve real-time monitoring consistency of every access attempt to a facility, machine, or asset to understand best if a given activity is legitimate or a threat. By having real-time video monitoring enabled across an entire network, a Utilities security team will know in less than a second if there is a security breach, vandalism, or potential theft in progress. Alerts are sent in real-time to administrators if there is a breach is to physical assets. The threat surface can be locked down, made inoperable in seconds, further stopping damage to a Utilities' remote sites or a potential cyberattack.
2. Real-time monitoring of assets, facilities, machinery and remote equipment is invaluable in identifying potential equipment and process failures, which could be just as devastating as a security incident. Another factor Utilities need to consider is how they can extend the life of their key assets, machinery and entire facilities. Given how all Utilities are facing revenue shortfalls, extending the life of assets is a high priority. Combining AI and video analytics is making a direct contribution to improving preventative and condition-based maintenance. Knowing the condition of remote machinery and equipment in real-time saves IT and Plant Maintenance thousands of hours a year.
3. Analyzing raw video feeds and the events, they capture using unstructured machine learning algorithms can help create entirely new mathematical models that assess risk, site stability and machinery reliability. It's feasible that a Utility's IT team would eventually predict when a given asset or machine would fail and estimate if and when a breach would occur based on leading indicators machine learning models may have discovered. Combining real-time data and analytics and machine learning models can help predict which types of machinery or equipment will most likely be stolen or vandalized. Having these predictive insights, Utilities can launch more powerful deterrence strategies to protect their property. Combining AI, real-time monitoring and video analytics with a continual feed of data from physical monitoring can reduce false alarms and help monitor teams more effectively.
Published on Forbes.com.