Better hydropower security with GIS

Posted in: Energy, Water

Man in safety gear working on computer systemPicture this: it’s a normal day. You go about your routine; nothing’s out of the ordinary. Suddenly, you’re alerted that a specific component of the SCADA system at your hydropower project has been hacked. A million thoughts race through your mind as you try to assess the danger to your project: what do you do? Do you know all the locations where that component exists? Is a specific area of your system more vulnerable than another? How many of these components do you have and when were they installed?

If this were a real situation, would you be able to react appropriately before a security breach?

Most of us probably know SCADA systems are crucial for industrial organizations: they maintain efficiency, process data for smarter decisions, and control assets at remote locations. As physical and cyber security systems and regulatory requirements get more sophisticated, how do you keep track of all the parts and pieces?

Geographic Information System (GIS) software can be a powerful tool to aid in this process. A GIS is a powerful database that combines the ability to store, sort, and quickly find data with a mapping component that provides you with a picture of where each piece of data is. The nexus of data and mapping provides a single location for storage and retrieval of all your security-related information.

If the situation described above occurred, a GIS would allow you to quickly identify the number, location, installation date, and replacement cost of every one of the compromised SCADA assets. You could also pull up a map showing that this particular component was only installed on a portion of your assets and you could even map out the optimal driving route for your Operations and Maintenance team to use when swapping out old hardware. The GIS can run on a secure website, or your desktop, tablet, or smartphone so the information is always there when you need it, regardless of your location.

Now is the time to explore the use of GIS technology, before you learn your system has been hacked. If you ever find yourself facing a security breach—you’ll be glad you prepared.

Carson Mettel, PE

About the Author

Carson Mettel, P.E., is Mead & Hunt’s National Market Leader for Dams and Hydropower. He has 35+ years of experience working with water resources, dams and hydro power projects. In his hours away from work, Carson is a pie connoisseur and enjoys biking, two interests that definitely complement each other.

Read more posts by Carson Mettel, PE

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