AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL IS MISSION CRITICAL, ISN’T IT?


banner james carlini - Carlini's CornerBy James Carlini

The recent employee sabotage of Aurora, Illinois’ Air Traffic Control center which brought air traffic to an abrupt halt brings up some huge questions:

“Isn’t that type of control center mission critical?
– Shouldn’t a control center like that be backed up?
– Why wasn’t it backed up, especially after a 1998 GAO study said it was dangerous not to have it redundant?
– Who’s in charge?

ARE WE STILL FLYING IN THE 1930S??

ARE WE STILL FLYING IN THE 1930S??

WHAT DOES MISSION CRITICAL MEAN?

I have worked in mission critical systems and intelligent infrastructure for my whole career spanning over 35 years from Bell Laboratories designing software to run the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to working with the City of Chicago on planning and designing their Emergency 911 Center to working with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on trading floor technologies as well as overall networks connecting GLOBEX users internationally.

In addition, I have worked with more than several companies on their call centers, manufacturing and international networks which would also be considered “mission critical” because that’s where a great amount of their business came through whether it was a catalog sales company (Spiegel’s) to a major bank (Sanwa Bank) to a consumer electronics company (JVC) or a pharmaceuticals company (Abbott Labs).

Mission critical means you cannot go down. You cannot have a single point-of-failure. You cannot afford to be down for your business.

Mission critical means you need redundant power supplies, you need redundant network connections and you need redundant processing power to maintain the applications (computers and data bases that are completely duplicated)

With all that being said, whoever designed the Air Traffic Control center had to have those same types of basic design concepts when they were building this center. With something as critical as managing aircraft in the sky, you would think that you either had a fully backed-up system that the controllers to switch to OR enough back-up within the network of air traffic control centers to handle the overload caused by one or two centers going completely out on the network grid.

HOUSTON (AND CHICAGO)…………WE HAVE A PROBLEM

The May 1998 GAO Study on Air Traffic Control (ATC) Weak Computer Security Practices Jeopardizes Flight Safety (http://www.gao.gov/assets/230/225741.pdf ) concluded:

The FAA has not analyzed the threats and vulnerabilities, or developed
safeguards to protect 87 of its 90 operational ATC computer systems and 8
of its 9 operational ATC telecommunications networks.

The FAA does not have a well-defined security architecture, a security concept of operations, or security standards, and does not consistently include well- formulated security requirements in specifications for new ATC systems

The FAA has recognized for several years that its vulnerabilities could
jeopardize, and have already jeopardized, flight safety.

There are definite problems today as there were 16 years ago, so where has everyone been in the last 16 years besides collecting a check?

FROM MY UPCOMING BOOK – LOCATION LOCATION CONNECTIVITY

You need to take into consideration new network, as well as power, requirements for mission critical applications.

Most buildings need to undergo a transformation as to how they connect into the fabric of network infrastructure within the region. A single connection equates to a potential single-point-of-failure. Many building owners need to assess whether or not they want to incur the expense of adding a second route for communications into the
building.

We have to get the Air Traffic Control enters up-to-par with other mission critical buildings which support corporate (and government) applications. This should have been done over a decade ago.

CARLINI-ISM: “A single connection equates to a potential
single-point-of-failure. That being said, over 95% of buildings are then not ready for tenants who have mission critical applications which need network access.”

CARLINI-ISM: “Intelligent amenities are more important than traditional amenities. Traditional amenities are a given in commercial real estate – intelligent amenities are not.”

Copyright 2014 - James Carlini - All rights reservedCarlini’s visionary upcoming book, Location Location Connectivity will be available in October. (The ISBN # 978-0-9906460-4-4 )

He will be the Keynote Speaker at HetNet Expo on October 15th.
Details are at http://www.hetnetexpo.com/

Copyright 2014 – James Carlini — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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