Resilience Engineered: Innovations in Critical National Infrastructure Protection

Leading security consulting and technology firm Restrata’s turnkey solutions boost resilience, achieving high standards of national security and public safety.

Restrata’s specialist team of security consultants and engineers have recently been working on the latest extension to London’s Ring of Steel. Unlike the fortifications that were made in the centre of Belfast during the height of the ‘Troubles’, and from which the Ring of Steel tag is borrowed, London’s version is barely noticeable. Physical barriers have been substituted with over half a million surveillance cameras that form a virtual cordon around the City and capture vital information on the movements of suspect people and vehicles. This intelligence-led approach allows police and other security agencies to monitor and intercept terrorists and criminals alike, and achieve some of the highest standards of national security and public safety anywhere in the world, all without so much as a single physical checkpoint or increased queue time.


This is just one example of where the United Kingdom has led the world in the protection of its cities and other Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) over the last few decades. And not without good reason; the devastating IRA campaign of the 1990’s took a significant toll on London, and in 1996 could have very easily resulted in a complete loss of power to the City for over a year, triggering a 30% decline in national GDP. Fortunately that attack was intercepted and some significant lessons learned. More recently the same expertise and innovation that contributed to the successful implementation of the London Ring of Steel and many similar CNI protection strategies, has spread to other parts of the globe as countries with sometimes even more significant security challenges look to emulate the careful balance of national security and build resilience of their own and public freedom that the UK has managed to achieve.

The MENA Region

This is particularly the case in the Middle East and Africa, where the pace of infrastructure development has few economic or political constraints; perhaps the potential disruption caused by regional security threats. However, governments and commercial entities alike are now acutely aware of this, and are bringing in the right capability at every stage of the project lifecycle.


In Iraq, the security situation has unfortunately deteriorated to the extent that armed security has become commonplace, and until very recently has been considered the only viable means of protecting the critical assets, operations and international oil company (IOC) personnel that are vital to the energy sector and in turn the long-term economic and political development of the country as a whole. However, a number of recent projects are changing this traditional approach and helping to readdress the balance of security and personal freedom in favour of a more cost-effective technology-led approach to risk mitigation. Restrata has recently completed a successful trial for the Southern Oil Company (which manages the largest oilfields in Iraq) of a new technology capable of detecting attacks on oil pipelines before any damage or disruption has been caused. The fibre optic based system uses something called Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) technology to ‘listen’ for activity anywhere along the entire length of the pipeline, which could be hundreds of kilometres long. Based on software algorithms developed over many years it can then accurately classify that activity – for example a vehicle approaching the pipeline or a person digging next to the pipeline – and signal an alert to a nearby response force or cue long-range surveillance cameras and UAVs or drones to monitor the event remotely. It is likely that once implemented across Iraq’s major export pipelines, this technology will save millions of dollars in lost revenue currently attributable to pipeline attacks, not to mention result in a dramatic reduction in environmental damage from oil spills.

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