Security System Planning and Design

Unique Water System Security Expertise

The events of September 11, 2001 heightened national interest in the protection of our critical infrastructure. As a result, the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) and individual water utility managers are continually assessing the security of the nation’s drinking water supply. While the AWWA and EPA have characterized the threat of terrorist attack on drinking water as "remote," water utilities were advised to heighten security measures.

At Timberline Engineering, we are systems engineers serving the water utility industry. We are also security professionals involved in the planning and design of security systems to protect national security. This combination of security experience and focus on the water industry has put us in a unique position to provide guidance to water system managers in developing a prudent security program to protect against the range of threats from vandalism to terrorist attack in a way that provides real value to the public.

Timberline Engineering, Inc. provides security system planning and design to private industry and government organizations. Our security system experience began with the pre-conceptual planning and design of the Nuclear Materials Safeguards and Security Upgrades Project for Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico. This project required the design of a Laboratory-wide intrusion detection, alarm assessment, and access control system. As part of this project, Timberline gained expertise in the following aspects of security program planning and system design:

  • Target Identification.
  • Threat Assessment.
  • Security Response.
  • Vulnerability Analysis.
  • Physical Security System Design.
  • Perimeter and Interior Intrusion Detection and Assessment System Design.
  • Access Control System Design.
  • Information Security.
  • Technical Security Countermeasures.
  • Chemical and Biological Weapons Detection and Protection.
  • Force Protection Measures in Building Design.

Timberline applied the skills developed through work with Los Alamos to private industry in a project for Barrick Goldstrike Mines in Elko, Nevada. Timberline performed an assessment of security vulnerabilities at the mine and preliminary design of security systems to reduce those vulnerabilities.

Timberline has been involved with security system design since 2000 and control system design for water utilities since our business was founded.

Our principals have participated in numerous conferences and round table discussions with subject matter experts in many aspects of security system planning and design. Some examples include:

  • Seminar on Force Protection Measures in Building Design presented by the US Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, DC.
  • Facility Design for Collective Protection against Chemical Warfare Agents presented by the Corps of Engineers.
  • Criteria for Design of Collective Protection Systems for Chemical Warfare Agents presented by the Edgewood Arsenal.
  • High Security System Applications Roundtable sponsored by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
  • Vulnerability Analysis Methodology Workshop with subject matter experts from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  • Access Control Workshop sponsored by Security Industry Organization.
  • Security Technology Seminar sponsored by Security Industry Organization.
  • Discussion and Tour of Casino Security Systems sponsored by the Security Industry Organization.

Overview of Planning and Design Services

Timberline Engineering advocates a requirements-driven design approach as the basis of our systems engineering methodology. In security system planning and design, the process begins with answering the following questions.

  • What are we protecting?
  • What are we protecting against?
  • What response to an attack are we prepared to make.

Answering these questions is essential to making appropriate design decisions. The question of what are we protecting can also be framed as what event or loss are we trying to detect, prevent, or recover from. The question of what are we protecting against allows us to define the threat. Explicitly defining the threat allows us to understand whether or not a security program is appropriate to meeting both presently identified threats and threats that arise in the future.

Perhaps the most important consideration for a water utility is how to respond to an attack. Security programs must be tailored to the response an agency can provide to an alarm. Response strategies span a broad range.

  • Denying the attacker access to their target.
  • Interrupting attackers before they can complete their attack.
  • Apprehending attackers before they can flee the scene.
  • Collecting information necessary to prosecute attackers upon their eventual arrest.
  • Detecting the attack so an appropriate recovery is possible.

Most water agencies do not have the mandate, resources, or inclination to maintain a highly trained, well-equipped rapid response force capable of providing an armed response to security alarms. Therefore, the security strategy must be tailored to the response that can be provided by local law enforcement or private security. Timberline works with water utility managers to develop a clear response strategy that meets their security needs.

Once Timberline and the water utility have answered these key planning questions, Timberline can design the electronic equipment and physical barriers necessary to implement the protection strategy. This equipment may be as simple as fences and locks or as complex as motion detectors, video cameras, and real-time water quality monitoring systems. These systems can be designed to work with the utility’s SCADA system to minimize investment in equipment, training, and maintenance.

Please contact us for more information about how Timberline can assist you in planning, designing, and implementing a security system meeting your specific needs.