First Responder Cybersecurity: Responsive Connectivity in Critical Infrastructure and the Internet of Things Project

PI: David Manz, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories  

Current emergency response notification of events is often slow and disconnected. A small structure fire or commercial natural gas leak usually requires a human witness who would then use 9-1-1 emergency response or directly contact an emergency management authority. Even if there is automated detection, it is often not tied directly into all the relevant emergency response stakeholders. The ubiquitous Internet of Things (IoT) will provide an avenue for this information to be either detected or passed on to the appropriate authorities. If some part of the IoT was onsite, perhaps through a household Intelligent Electronic Device (IED) or a Smart Grid Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) component, the automated information logged could be used to detect and promulgate the emergency event information more quickly.

The “Security Attributes of Smart Grid Systems” report to Congress explicitly addresses emergency response communication in question 3. The proposed research directly addresses the issues raised in the congressional report. How do first responders communicate in concert with the critical infrastructure and the IoT? Furthermore, this proposal fulfills the DHS Long Range Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Topical Areas of Command, Control, & Interoperability and Infrastructure and Geophysical – technologies. Specifically addressed are the areas of “Integrated incident management components and systems to improve public and first responder safety,” and “Concepts, methodologies, and/or technologies to improve protection of or enhance performance of responders as they carry out life-saving tasks.”

The DHS highlights the key role emergency response and disaster preparedness plays in securing our communities and protecting critical infrastructure. The ability to symbiotically benefit both elements will leverage greater responsiveness and effectiveness for first responders and provide enhanced availability and resiliency for national critical infrastructure.