Focus: Critical Infrastructure Protection

Critically Speaking

Sep. 27, 2021

Infrastructure, and the wider environment it serves, and which it impacts, forms the veins and sinews of any society. Its capacity to work efficiently and keep under any conditions, underpins the notion of infrastructure protection.

Established toward the end of WW2, down the subsequent decades Parsons has evolved into a premier purveyor of disruptive technology employed in the areas of critical infrastructure, defense, and intelligence. Present in the MEA for over 60 years, and the GCC for 42, it has signed-off on key projects, delivering smart solutions for cities and industry alike. Present on the ground, it runs offices in all GCC-member countries.

In the firm's own words, its wide portfolio of civil engineering in the critical infrastructure of the region spans, but is not limited to, commercial buildings and residential communities, master planning, mixed-use developments, airports, roads, bridges, rail and transit, ports, water infrastructure, and energy projects.

What's so Critical About it?

Well, functionality, connectivity, longevity and security, to name but four factors. By marrying legacy infrastructure to the latest and evolving technological possibilities such as augmented and virtual reality, XD modeling and drones, sophisticated transit solutions and infrastructure such as tunnels and road systems can be planned, realized and maintained, effectively and where required - think Covid-19 for one – remotely. In this endeavor the firm makes use of its home-spun smart mobility backbone, iNET.

A Deeply Rooted Institution

In 2018, Parsons celebrated 40 years of commitment to the vision of the United Arab Emirates, where its regional headquarters would open their doors…"to accommodate our end-to-end technology enabled capabilities, now and into the future," as the company put it at the time. The ball got rolling with the management of Abu Dhabi's urban highway development program, as the Emirate moved toward greater urban integration.

Waste Not Want Not

Water may be the source of life, but once consumed it becomes a menace that requires essential and reliable treatment infrastructure. And so, let's briefly look at but one fluid example from Parsons' program portfolio. In 2016 Parsons won a notable a contract for Dubai Municipality involving two deep wastewater tunnels and related sewers. The tunnels, with a projected total length of approximately 70km, and located in the key catchment areas of Deira and Bur Dubai, will be essential to realizing Dubai's 100-year master plan. Anticipating population growth is a vital part of solutions delivery, and indeed, this project factored that in, while leveraging technology to reduce operational carbon footprint. The importance of the project lay in, “…its role in the development of Dubai as a global city," according to Parsons. The firm is currently engaged in feasibility studies and preliminary design of the program, and is contracted to provide program management of the design and construction phases, while also overseeing the construction phase of the primary tunnels and pumping station.

In the Domain

And meanwhile, in the modern era of digital terrorism that threatens to undermine smart environments, Parsons is also a leader in the sphere of critical infrastructure protection and cybersecurity. For this it leans on its critical infrastructure protection product, Domain6, the integration of Cyber-Physical Protection Technologies. The product, a global first, guards against would-be threats to operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) environments. What recommends the product most is its ability to meet clients' need for a converged OT-IT infrastructure security solution primed for today's environment of heightened digital threat.

While leading the march in technology-solutions is its own reward, Parsons is not a stranger to accolades. It was chosen back in 2014 by the Maryland Procurement Office (MPO) to deliver comprehensive cyber-physical infrastructure protection consulting services. Three years later, the MPO Industrial Controls System (ICS) Modernization Program garnered the best product of the year award for the Intelligence Community from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

The clear and present need for critical infrastructure protection perhaps best became apparent in the results of a 2018 survey conducted by Parsons. What emerged was that around 80% of ICS engineers tasked with integrating network-connected industrial internet of things IIoT devices, were not notably engaged in cybersecurity planning and implementation. Righting this wrong is what Parsons works towards in its domestic market, and across its countries of operation.