Secure controls, monitoring for water systems is new company’s focus

Providing secure controls and monitoring for U.S. water supplies and meeting Homeland Security and EPA directives are among the goals of a recently formed company and its major product.


Providing secure controls and monitoring for U.S. water supplies and meeting Homeland Security and EPA directives are among the goals of a recently formed company and its major product. Longwatch Inc. , serving the security and threat assessment needs of community water systems (CWS), began business operations with the release of a surveillance system solution that delivers near real-time video surveillance of remote water facilities using existing CWS communications networks.

Video Control Center (VCC) software application, part of the Longwatch surveillance solution, includes an alarm history display and an integrated industry standard database to maintain all alarms and video files, tools for overall system management, and a bridge that integrates alarm, configuration, and video capabilities with the SCADA system.

“In the wake of 9/11, organizations tasked with managing and maintaining community water systems were forced to implement stringent new security procedures,” said Don Simoneau, company CEO, noting that the surveillance system can improve the ability to detect, classify, and respond to any potential security risk with minimal disruption and investment.

According to Longwatch, an average CWS has an intricate array of pump stations, wells, tanks, and processing sites located miles apart from each other and those they serve. The unmanned remote locations communicate over existing, low-bandwidth monitoring and control networks to a centralized office. Intrusion detections systems at these sites typically indicate “when” an alarm was triggered but not “how.” Homeland Security and EPA directives require potential security breaches to be met with an immediate investigation and evaluation to ensure that the water supply or equipment has not been compromised.

Although most intrusions are false alarms, each must be fully investigated. Longwatch contends that remote video surveillance capabilities help identify the cause of an intrusion alarm before a response unit is deployed, but typically require a high bandwidth connection. The company’s surveillance solution is capable of sending near-real-time, full-motion video using existing, low bandwidth connections. The video feed is also integrated within existing SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) screens. A single system can be used to monitor and control the performance and integrity of an entire water system. The video signal can also be pushed to a separate monitoring system if desired.

—Jeanine Katzel, senior editor, Control Engineering,

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