Water could lead way to perimeter protection as boardroom issue

Thursday, Apr 12, 2018

Jason Hunter, Business Development Manager, Gallagher Security

Vulnerability will be an explicit part of water price reviews for the first time next year, elevating perimeter protection to a boardroom issue, according to technology leader Gallagher.

The water regulator Ofwat published its final methodology recently for its forthcoming 2019 price review – PR19 – which sets out its expectations and requirements for water companies preparing their 2020-25 business plans.

Its assessments challenge the water companies to ‘step up’ on four themes – great customer service, long-term resilience, affordability and innovation.
It expects companies to provide value for money bills and ‘challenge themselves to push the efficiency frontier’ to provide scope for price reductions.
On publication, it said: “The only way water companies will achieve all this, is to find new and better ways of delivering their services.  Our 2019 price review enables, incentivises and encourages water companies to achieve exactly that, so that customers will get more of what really matters to them.”

Business plans will be assessed on how well companies use good quality data; how well they engage with other utilities and organisations to support the vulnerable; and how targeted, efficient and effective their measures to address vulnerability are.

Jason Hunter, Perimeter Business Development Manager for Gallagher Security (Europe), says: “Tellingly for those in the perimeter protection field, vulnerability will be an explicit part of the price review process for the first time.

“This points the way to the sector having to raise perimeter protection at boardroom level.”

Gallagher believes organisations too often in the past have seen perimeter protection purely as a measure for protecting their facilities.

The emphasis has often been on securing premises in order to prevent losses, while not hindering day-to-day operations, and more recently on data and software, but rarely on people.

PR19 and the methodology now adopted by Ofwat for the 2019 price reviews will directly challenge this approach and force water companies to regard reducing its vulnerability as a crucial investment.

Hunter says: “Done well, perimeter protection should be about appropriate risk management against both cyber and terror as well as more traditional threats that actually provides the opportunity to improve customer service, increase business efficiency and reduce costs.”

People, first and foremost, should be at the heart of the process, in terms of safety and security of premises and resources and also in planning and decision making on appropriate measures.

Water encapsulates this perfectly, especially in this age of increased fear of deliberate and shockingly-life-disregarding terrorist attack where the sanctity of the water supply is so critical.

Hunter concludes: “For instance, the Thames Water desalination plant at Beckton – which cost £250m and started producing clean drinking water in March 2010 – can produce 140-150 million litres of water per day, which is enough for one million people in north-east London.

“The impact of infection of a supply such as this could make the death toll of 9/11 appear totally insignificant.  In time, we may be very grateful to Ofwat for its farsightedness.”

To find out more, visit Jason Hunter on the Gallagher Security stand at Utility Week Live. Register for your free tickets at www.utilityweeklive.co.uk