Safe State?

Technology has to be fused with people, intelligence and processes to create security architecture. A layered architecture will add more value in enhancing security measures

Security of life, infrastructure and territory is the primary concern of any nation. The nature and scope of potential threats to physical security is changing and scaling, faster than ever. Much more alarming is the increasing number of terror attacks and loss of lives, world wide.   Besides, large-scale natural disasters and pandemics pose additional threats to public security and safety.  And it is not just the physical security which is at stake, as against the man-made and natural disasters but also the digital and information infrastructure of the nation states.

With the changing nature of threats, prevention and response mechanisms need regular revision. Technology, especially, the information and communication technologies, is a big enabler here. The governments need to be equally equipped and conversant with technology in order to counter criminals, terrorists or those who try to undermine stability and peace in the country. Agencies responsible for public safety need to respond quickly to incidents. However, often the public security sector suffers from resource crunch and inadequate information and intelligence.

To overcome such limitations, the governments in developed countries are turning to technology and are using latest surveillance systems, situational modeling and visualisation software, chemical/biological detection monitors to counter security threats.

Though, India is among the countries most affected by terrorist and insurgent activities, it was the 26/11 terrorists’ attack in Mumbai, that forced the Indian government to seriously consider improving the country’s homeland security apparatus.

Rothin Bhattacharyya
CEO, HCL Security Ltd

“Technology should not only be deployed but be integrated with devices/equipments in a way that they compliment with each other and offer actionable intelligence”

Rothin Bhattacharyya, CEO, HCL Security Ltd., opines that the perception of security threats faced by India has changed drastically over the years. “In the year 2008, India was world’s third most afflicted country by terrorism incidents. To cope up with these increased number of attacks, there was a need to enable robust security across the cities. Hence, several ICT projects were undertaken by the government and latest security technologies have been deployed in various areas of the country to combat terrorism.”

In an emerging economy like India, with a billion plus population, maintaining the GDP growth rate of eight to nine percent is one of the prime concern of the government. It is therefore, an important focus of the government to strengthen the homeland security with the help of technological interventions, as also leveraging the private sector expertise in ICT, for providing advanced and intelligent solutions to the security forces. Given this scenario, Government of India intends to spend $10 billion on India’s homeland security in the coming two to three years.

The top security agencies in India are leveraging the benefits of ICT for securing India. Today, technologies such as CCTVs and surveillance cameras are equipped to monitor terrorists activities and other such threats. However, India has still lots to do to ensure public safety and security. The government, now also realises the importance of protecting digital infrastructure– digital government data, since the government websites, networks and computers are  at the receiving end of information hackers.

The situation is grim, given the fact that the terrorists today are extremely  tech-savvy. Coupled with this, India has a poor state of policing and  intelligence, ill-equipped security agencies and weak criminal justice system making it extremely difficult for any security agency to respond to the newer  threats and challenges.

While India has made enough progress in ensuring safety, the challenges to  public safety will continue to grow. India should thus ensure a robust safety and  security system.

Technology Comes Handy

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has a paramount role in  securing homeland as well as disaster prediction and management. ICT systems  are able to collect, analyse, assess and disseminate information quickly and  completely. The fast and effective communication of relevant details to security agencies, and enhanced awareness of potential threats improves decision  making and helps anticipate threats and risks better while also making efficient  use of critical resources to prevent and eliminate potential threats to public  security.

At the same time, technology enables better management of natural  disasters with focus on overlapping phases of mitigation, preparedness,  response, and recovery. Technology driven knowledge-based information infrastructure helps provide balanced support to each phase of these activities  in the disaster management cycle. ICT plays a major part in interpreting  geo-spatial data. Image processing, predictive analysis, like Tsunami Early  Warning Systems, data modeling, GIS and Advanced Meteorology are some of  the key applications that have been deployed worldwide. Standards have  evolved like the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) – an information interchange  standard that can be used collect all types of hazard warnings and  reports locally, regionally and nationally, for input into a wide range of  information management and  warning dissemination systems. Systems using CAP have  shown that a single authoritative and secure alert message can quickly launch Internet messages, news feeds, television text captions, highway sign messages, and synthesised voice-over automated telephone calls or radio broadcasts.

As Abhay Bhargav, CTO, we45 Solutions India Pvt. Ltd., puts it, “With reference  to homeland security, IT could be used extensively in storage, processing and  transmission of intelligence information, defense information and so on. Using  integrated application, law enforcement and defense agencies can gain relevant  and comprehensive information about threats to homeland security.”

With reference to Disaster Preparedness and Management, Abhay informs, “IT  ystems can be invaluable in terms of prevention and detection of disaster  situations. For instance, through applications and communication networks, the nation can issue advisories against people visiting certain sections of the  country affected by a natural calamity. With effective monitoring, using IT  applications and communication networks, the government can issue  evacuation orders for people in the area,thus preventing loss of life in case of a disaster”.

Major General Ramesh Chandra Padhi, MOGSGS, Military Survey, Indian Army, also hails the role of ICT in security domain. According to him, “ICT has  brought the capabilities in depiction, integration, visualisation and analysis of geo spatial data. Improved bandwidth, high speed data processor and data storage capacity has enabled fusion of military and intelligence inputs so that a  common operational picture is made available to all security managers,  commanders and officers at different levels”. However, he suggests that maps  need to be properly geo-referenced, because worldwide there are many  reference-frameworks that most people get confused. So there is a need of a  common reference framework. It is with this concern that the National Map  Policy has been designed in India, on a global reference framework.

However, as Dr Rajvir P Sharma, IGP (Planning and Police Modernisation),  Office of DGP & IGP, Karnataka State Police quips, “Monitoring of micro- information from gleaning to processing to collating and dissemination is yet to  be achieved leading to loss of microinformation and consequent information  loss.” Micro information management technology therefore, needs to be optimised.

Loknath Behera cautions against mindless use of technology without proper  standardisation, which causes more problems than it sorts out. Thus,  technology has to be fused with people, intelligence and process to create  security architecture.

A layered architecture will add more value in enhancing security measures.  “Technology should not only be deployed but should be integrated with  devices/ equipments in such a way that they compliment with each other and offer actionable intelligence” suggests Rothin Bhattacharyya.

The Great Security Spender!

The global security climate has caused an aggravation of existing security concerns and necessitated the development of  holistic physical security solutions. Nations are realising that in order to  effectively protect people, property and critical assets, they need physical  security and safety programmes, designed to address not only traditional  crime, but also sophisticated terrorist attacks, and natural disasters. The  government remains the biggest spender on physical security or surveillance  solutions. Growth can be seen coming from various sectors such as urban  security, public transport, hospitality sector, airport security, BFSI and education. Governments are now looking towards adopting a more holistic and  integrated approach to physical security.

Worldwide market for security is about $100 billion and growing at the rate of  12 percent, as per industry sources. Frost & Sullivan pegs the market for  security and surveillance equipment in India at `1,800 crore and the video  surveillance market at `866 crore, both of which have a compounded annual  growth rate of 25-30 percent. Some of the leading players in this market are  SAP, EADS, Smiths Detection, Palantir, Tyco, Bosch, Adaptive Imaging, Vigilant Systems, Fluor Corp, Northrop Grumman, Siemens, Lockheed Martin, Accenture and many more.

Security apparatus Overhaul

After the 26/11 terror incident in Mumbai, structured efforts have been made  to bring about a streamlining in the operations of government public safety  bodies in India through the modernisation of operations. The areas where ICT is  playing a role in modernising security apparatus includes access control and  perimeter security systems, investigation management, crime analytics,  monitoring and surveillance systems for Internet and electronic media,  telecommunications, procurement of specialised vehicles for bomb disposal  and riots, personal body armor etc.

With the operationalisation of the Multi- Agency Centre (MAC), through an Executive Order issued on December 31,  2008, every piece of relevant information or intelligence gathered by one of  the participating agencies is brought to the table.

At the same time, a network is  being created of all the databases that contain vital information and  intelligence. Since, each database stands alone, and does not talk to another database, crucial information that rests in one database is not available to  another agency. In order to tackle this issue, the Central Government decided  to set up National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID). Under NATGRID, 21 sets of  databases will be networked to achieve quick, seamless and secure access to  desired information for intelligence/enforcement agencies.

With the objective  of having an integrated approach towards policing, the Ministry of Home Affairs  has come up with a `2000 crores project – Crime and Criminal Tracking  Network and Systems (CCTNS) that is scheduled  to be in place by 2011-12. CCTNS aims to facilitate storage, collation, analysis and  transmission/ sharing of crime and criminals related information at the police  station, district, state and central levels. National Crime Records Bureau, on  behalf of the Ministry of Home Affairs, is the nodal agency for overseeing the implementation of this project. Commenting on the role of CCTNS project, B Bhamathi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Home, says “No Software or  technology solution alone can be panacea for all issues surrounding the functioning of police. However CCTNS can act as a catalyst and technology  enabled agent for initiating a change in Police functioning.”

To address issues  pertaining to natural and man-made disasters, the Disaster Management Act of  2005 was passed leading to the formation of the National Disaster Management   authority (NDMA). It is mandated by the Government of India to  create the policy framework, transform disaster management plans and  establish guidelines for effective response to disasters. The enforcement of its  policies and implementation of its guidelines, disaster mitigation provisioning and disaster prevention also form the broad charter of this apex body.

However, the pace at which the envisaged reforms and modernisation  initiatives are being adopted are not the same as that on an international level.

As Mathew Thomas, Vice President – Strategic Industries, SAP India  Subcontinent notes, “The multi-tiered security agency framework, slow  collaborative outcomes, information silos, lack of a centralised, quick- response, ICT-enabled command and control system – coupled with issues like  corruption and procedural wrangles have led to slow realisation of the set  objectives.”

Partners in Security agenda

Public-private partnerships can help fill gaps in homeland security that neither  government, nor business can fill alone. Increasingly, they are assuming a vital  role in our nation’s homeland security strategy. Mathew Thomas feels that there is a huge potential for partnership in the areas of safe practices, disaster  mitigation, disaster preparedness and response, reconnaissance and recovery.

Abhay Bhargav of we45 Solutions says, “The private sector is replete with  experts who will e able to leverage the ever-increasing power of
the web, networks and IT deployments and will be able to optimise the way  homeland security and disaster management is approached in the country.”  For instance, private IT security companies will be able to help the government secure its IT deployments and networks against the advanced persistent threat  of state-sponsored cyber terrorism by providing cutting edge security and  testing services.”

Ramandeep Singh Walia, Head-System Engineering Group,  Check Point Software Technologies, suggests that it is important for government to collaborate with private sector to ensure the awareness of the  security risk attributes. “The source of revenue from cyber terrorism or cyber  attacks have far exceeded the revenue generated due to drug trafficking. For  this, processes, policies and awareness programmes have to equally  compliment the security controls. Private sector can play a major role in this  regard.”

Road to Secure nation

For seamless response to security threats, security agencies need an IT  infrastructure that is fully integrated and capable of real-time updates among  government, industry, and nonprofit stakeholders during all coordination  phases. This necessitates putting in place such security systems that fully  integrate resources – financial, human, and technological with operational and back-office information assets, to maximise visibility across the entire security  framework.

To foster and augment the process of information sharing, ICT  should be used at all levels in the security sector. In this regard, a standards-based policy needs to be evolved that evaluates available  technologies based on their readiness, usage and effectiveness, while  shortening the solution availability cycle.

The road to a secure nation lies in  creation of a framework that covers the governance of their physical  infrastructure, IT infrastructure, networks and so on, encapsulating preventive, detective and corrective mechanisms to protect the security of all government  agencies and departments.

Apart from physical security, information security  is the need of the hour. Government agencies and departments contain a wealth of information that is invaluable to attackers. Therefore, it is quintessential that  the government takes information security as seriously as physical security.