Underground and Under Control: Tunnels and Cybersecurity

Koen Van Winkel - Business Segment Manager - Schréder
Koen Van Winkel
Deputy Director, Marketing & Tunnel Business Segment Manager

Keeping things underground is synonymous with security. Bank vaults, wine cellars and secret passages are all about ensuring things are protected safe - and tunnels should be no exception. In our decades of lighting tunnels, we’ve seen a shift from a simple on/off switch to remote management, control systems, and now supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. 

Our products integrate seamlessly into these, enabling tunnel owners to build faster, operate more safely and gather information on how they are used. Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are directly linked to the luminaires, enabling real-time control and feedback of lighting systems in even the harshest environments; we’ve worked on city-centre tunnels which are busy 24/7 to installations in Canada where salt grit is sprayed onto the entire tunnel system throughout the long, cold winter. 

At the same time, the global cybersecurity landscape is evolving. The 2017 Wannacry attack affected health services, the Solar Winds and Microsoft Exchange Server hacks made governments aware of the importance of protecting critical infrastructure. Ransomware is having a huge impact on everything from gas supplies to health services. Sadly, any piece of connected infrastructure is a potential target, but the solution is not to give up on the myriad benefits smart systems can bring.

Instead, we should take cyber threats seriously and build secure, robust systems that keep data safe. Our Advanced Tunnel System 4 (ATS 4) remote control system does just that. It enables precise remote dimming and switching of each luminaire. It allows tunnel owners to take control and create tunnels where motorists feel safe and confident. And it ensures cybersecurity at every stage.

Going Off at a Tangent

The Tangent Tunnel in Mechelen, Belgium is only 755 metres long, but it contains more than 1,000 luminaires, 400 managed switches and routers, PLCnext controllers (controls light, ventilation, pumping,..), CCTV cameras and other sensors and security points. The sheer volume of data is overwhelming.

Tangent Tunnel in Mechelen has been fitted with a smart tunnel lighting system that meets the strictest rules for cyber security compliance

To keep a tunnel such as this one cyber secure, and make sure the end users know how to manage their tunnel, we identify assets which communicate to the infrastructure, design a network architecture to manage them, test how they behave, set-up an incident procedure and recovery plan, train them in cyber security management and carry out a final audit to certify the complete infrastructure.

The Total Package

At the heart of the EU’s Cybersecurity strategy is the NIS Directive, which was launched in 2016 and ensures countries supervise cybersecurity in critical sectors, such as transport. It also sets out standards for these systems. ATS 4 was developed as a joint venture with Phoenix Contact, and is based on PLCnext technology, an open automation communication system. The ATS 4 controller is the first control system to fully comply with both the NIS Directive and international standard IEC62443, meaning it sets a gold standard for cybersecurity in tunnel installations “Security by design”. 

PLCnext technology is the first control system to comply with EU cybersecurity standards, but full protection goes beyond that. Phoenix Contact provides a full, certified service to ensure the whole installation is secure. Together, we bring our expertise in photometry, hardware, software, cabling, connectivity, luminaires and combine them with Phoenix Contact’s excellence in automation to create a whole package. With on-going service options and a wealth of experience to draw on, we can find the right solution for tunnel projects of any magnitude. 

A Paarl Among Tunnels

Huguenot Tunnel provides a route through the Du Toitskloof Mountains which separates Paarl and Worcester in the Western Cape, South Africa. At 3.9km long, the road tunnel is the longest in the country and 11km shorter than the pass over the mountains. More than 12,000 vehicles travel through the tunnel daily, making it difficult to replace the lighting, which consisted of fluorescent tubes from when it opened in the 1980s.

Huguenot Tunnel lighting solution in South Africa

The South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) commissioned Schréder, in partnership with Phoenix Contact, to deliver the lighting solution. More than 6,200 energy-efficient LED luminaires managed by the ATS control system were installed to light this bi-directional tunnel; every single one can be controlled, and light levels can be adapted according to specific tunnel conditions like weather, day mode, night mode, maintenance and emergency sensor inputs. The customer was delighted that we offered cybersecurity by design when it came to developing this package.

Constant connection is the new normal, and tunnel owners have every right to expect a level of information about tunnel performance that is consistent with other strategic infrastructure assets. That also means taking cybersecurity as seriously as the risk of fire, flood or accidents - and with ATS 4, we believe we’ve set the standard once again.

About the writer
Koen joined Schréder in 2008, with a solid experience in engineering to market control systems which were slowly gaining momentum in the lighting industry. He was instrumental in developing our smart lighting systems for both roads and tunnels, offering pragmatic advice. Indeed, with his experience and knowledge, he took control of the Group Sales Support to accompany many customers on this journey. Today, he is also bringing his valuable expertise to the tunnel lighting market, expanding our service offering and delivering projects worldwide.

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