Proposed Biden Infrastructure Bill Could Be a Boon for the Security Industry

With more than $2 trillion in possible funding across myriad sectors, physical security upgrades figure to be a priority

Article originally published by Steve Lasky via

United States Capitol Building

After four years of the previous administration promising to roll out its version of an “Infrastructure Week” that never materialized, the Biden administration this week unveiled its infrastructure and jobs package less than 100 days after taking office. No doubt the roughly $2 trillion that would be destined to states and municipalities across the nation for roads, bridges, crumbling water and public works systems, broadband expansion and other critical infrastructure needs is expensive and aggressive, but as President Biden himself stated, it was just a starting point.

All indications point to a highly partisan battle as this bill is set to move through Congress. The Republican’s view of what constitutes infrastructure and what Democrat lawmakers are proposing seems as far apart as the shores of San Francisco and Oakland connected by a rusting 80-year-old Golden Gate Bridge. Democrats see infrastructure spending directed to schools, healthcare facilities, electrical grid and SCADA systems, while the GOP stands by their narrow view of infrastructure as only more traditional steel and concrete public works, like roads and bridges.

The Security Industry and the Infrastructure Bill

Biden has made it clear that he plans to get this bill passed into law with or without bipartisan cooperation. An infrastructure package of this magnitude would be a once-in-a-generation piece of legislation that would impact myriad business sectors for decades. Would the security industry be of a benefactor if such a bill were to pass?

Government insiders like Jake Parker think so. Parker is the senior director of government relations for the Security Industry Association (SIA) and leads the development of the association’s legislative and regulatory programs. With more than 12 years of experience on Capitol Hill, Parker is optimistic about the positive impact the bill might have on the security sector.

“The Biden Administration’s proposed American Jobs Plan Act could potentially be a significant boost for the industry. The greater range of sectors included in any final bill that involves major renovation or construction of buildings, or incorporates key technologies developed by our industry – so infrastructure beyond roads and bridges – the greater the benefit. Particularly important will be schools, housing, transit and other transportation infrastructure, where there is an incredible need for modernized structures, which necessarily include modern security and life safety systems,” emphasizes Parker. “One important detail to watch is what kind of domestic content rules there will be for products purchased using the new funding, and how similar they will be to existing rules for federal procurement and grant programs, as supply chains for electronic security products typically extend well beyond the United States. There will be a significant debate in Congress over the proposed offsets to pay for the plan, including an increase in corporate income taxes, impacting both small and large businesses organized as corporations, and increases in personal income taxes affecting “pass-through” businesses with income over $400,000.”

But how will this bill play before security solutions providers as it steamrolls towards reality? Leigh Dow, who is the Vice President of Marketing for Identiv and began her career in government affairs working for the Governor of Florida’s press office and then-U.S. Senator Bob Graham sees Biden’s plan as an opportunity to modernize and secure critical infrastructure across the nation while creating opportunities in engineering services, and in industries like security that secure large infrastructure installations.

“For security specifically, the world is becoming more verified with an increasing need to digitally secure the physical world. Building in authenticated access to spaces, logistics, platforms, products and services should be inherent in any infrastructure development activity. Once the infrastructure is secure, the ability to verify the physical goods passing through them is a key component to modern infrastructure,” says Dow, who began working in the tech industry at Intel, managing immigration and Department of State programs in government affairs, and then marketing and public relations at Intel.

Security Cuts Across Compliance to Risk Mitigation

The broad spectrum of what constitutes critical infrastructure in particular and infrastructure, in general, has moved beyond steel and concrete projects as it relates to security. Given the ever-expanding landscape of IoT devices that impact both the physical and cybersecurity space, vendors like Identiv and others who play in the government, institutional and infrastructure sectors realize security’s role will increase.

“These highly regulated sectors are increasingly connected environments where security and operational objectives must be intertwined. It is critical to keep facilities in these sectors secure while also reducing risk without sacrificing operational performance. Access control built for critical infrastructure plays a vital role in maintaining regulatory compliance, improving worker safety, reducing legal liability and improving productivity. Access control also gives operational insight into the entire environment and is a platform for real-time responsiveness to manage events and protect the facility from threats that may even originate beyond the perimeter,” Dow explains.

The importance of coordinating solid physical security and integrated access control strategy along with an organization’s cybersecurity plan has become essential considering the evolving network-centric approach to holistic risk mitigation. When it comes to protecting infrastructure, security convergence is more than a buzzword.

“As the physical and digital world becomes more integrated, how do we create logical and physical security solutions that build a secure flow of information across the ecosystem? In addition to physical access control, we {need to} build solutions that deal with BYOD and address the challenges of anywhere operations that come with increasingly growing remote education and workforce,” Dow admits. “This convergence is important for a facility’s security plan – today, security should be a part of an organization’s day-to-day operations and designed to drive results-oriented cooperation between previously disjointed security functions. The integration of physical security, logical security, information security, business continuity, risk management, loss prevention and more should be part of a holistic security strategy for any facility. We are seeing more cross-functional involvement in physical and logical access decision making as security convergence becomes more prominent.”

Dow adds that in mission-critical infrastructure sectors, integrated security management has to be a strategy to manage an organization’s exposure to risk and create a strategic single point of view that brings the silos together. That convergence delivers greater enterprise-wide accountability in the ecosystem and sheds light on vulnerabilities.

“This holistic risk mitigation approach also improves the ability to comply with industry regulations. At Identiv, we recently introduced a new IP-based video management system, Velocity Vision, for both field offices and headquarters. It is a unified, open-platform VMS built to provide a data-enabled security solution delivering intelligence in a single-pane-of-glass view. The real-time visual intelligence improves security operations and learns and automates over time to help converge the digital and physical so teams can react faster, with better data and keep people and places secure. We designed this product offering specifically to provide a more integrated solution,” says Dow.

A Security Renaissance

According to Dow, Biden’s bill has the potential to be a new renaissance in infrastructure innovation and development, which must include inherent physical and logical security. She cites a Gartner research study on how infrastructure-led innovation will help drive enterprise resilience and business growth in our post-pandemic world, which states that leaders who embrace infrastructure innovation will see greater enterprise resilience.

“We see this particularly as the physical and digital world intertwine. There’s a lot of debate in Congress right now about how to define what is and what is not infrastructure. Infrastructure segments are intertwined with virtually every aspect of technology. You cannot operate power, ground transportation, air mobility, smart cities, and other critical infrastructure facilities without technology; with our focus on technology that secures the infrastructure.” concludes Dow. “Critical infrastructure has always been vulnerable to physical threats. As these assets increase their operations through cloud-based technologies, the risk of cyber threats is introduced. As new technologies become more critical for the successful delivery of infrastructure assets and operations, we want to see a focus in improving the layer of resilience that delivers a safe, secure and connected infrastructure.”

Leigh Dow, Vice President of Marketing, Identiv
Leigh Dow, Vice President, Global Marketing, Identiv