On Nov. 5, on a bipartisan basis, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the most significant U.S. investment in infrastructure in decades, with President Biden signing it into law on Nov. 15.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would increase spending on infrastructure by $550 billion over five years. This includes funding far above baseline for many existing highway, transit, rail and other programs included in surface transportation reauthorizations that are operating under a short-term extension through Dec. 3, as well as a number of entirely new programs.
More than half of the funding in the bill is directed to transportation infrastructure modernization, including highways, roads, bridges, rail, public transit, airports and other modalities, while the remainder is focused on energy, water, communications and other infrastructure outside of transportation. The bill also includes new domestic sourcing requirements for these projects (see below).
Here are highlights of key program increases and new initiatives funded in the bill that the Security Industry Association (SIA) expects will support projects requiring solutions provided across a wide range of sectors within the security industry:
Public Transit – $39 Billion
The measure increases baseline funding for grants supporting transit projects administered by the Federal Transit Administration by more than 60 percent, which is the largest federal investment in public transit in history. Security and life safety systems play a key role in projects funded by these grants, involving the construction, renovation or retrofit of transit facilities like stations and rail yards, for example, as well as integration within transit vehicles like buses and subway and light rail cars.
Passenger and Freight Rail – $66 Billion
In the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago, the new funding will modernize locomotives, rail cars, track infrastructure and stations both throughout the northeast corridor, as well as expansion of intercity rail service outside this area, both providing a opportunity for safety and security technology modernization.
Airports – $25 Billion
The measure provides an additional $15 billion in formula funding for Airport Improvement Program projects – nearly doubling funding for the primary Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant program, $5 billion for airport terminal development projects and $5 billion for FAA facilities and equipment over the next five years. Security and life safety systems will be incorporated into many projects funded with these increases, such as security checkpoint expansion, terminal enhancements and new health and safety measures. For example, in the 2021 Airport Infrastructure Needs Study released by the Airports Council International, airports have identified $1.28 billion in unmet security infrastructure needs alone.
Port Infrastructure – $17 Billion
Significant investment in port infrastructure has the potential to reduce future supply chain disruptions. Inland and land-side port infrastructure construction and renovation in particular will involve facility security and life safety systems.
Electric and Low Emission Bus Program – $5 Billion
The measure’s initiative will replace thousands of school and transit buses with ICE propulsion with electric and low-emissions buses. Newer vehicles are often equipped or retrofitted with safety technologies incorporating cameras, network video recorders and other equipment. For example, 84% of transit buses have security cameras, according to a recent survey by the American Public Transportation Association, up from around half in 2010.
Smart Cities Grants – $500 Million
The Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grant Program is a competitive grant program to be administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, providing $100 million annually to “smart cities” initiatives around the country. Project focus areas include improving safety of the traveling public, as well as utilizing “intelligent, sensor-based infrastructure” to report-real-time data to inform transportation operations and performance.
Energy Security Partnerships
The bill directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to implement a public-private partnerships program to “address and mitigate the physical security and cybersecurity risks of electric utilities.”
Grid Security Research & Demonstration – $250 Million
The DOE will stand up a new program to develop advanced cybersecurity applications and technologies to identity and mitigate vulnerabilities from both physical and cyber threats.
Energy Sector Cyber-Resilience Program – $50 Million
Under this new program to enhance and periodically test the emergency response capabilities of DOE and the industry. Among other things, the eligible activities include “developing capabilities to identify vulnerabilities and critical components that pose major risk to grid security if destroyed or impaired,” adding “physical security to the cybersecurity maturity model” and research on “hardening solutions for critical components of the electrical grid.”
State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program – $1 Billion
Under a new program at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, state and local governments will receive assistance when needed for recovery from cyberattacks, but also for proactive cybersecurity measures to protect government networks, including modernization that ensures alignment between information technology and operational technology cybersecurity objectives. These initiatives could include cyber-physical security solutions. For example, many states have expressed an interest in bolstering security access to government networks with multifactor authentication, similar to federal government initiatives in recent years.
School Facility Improvements – $500 Million
The infrastructure measure provides new assistance specifically for schools to make improvements that “reduce energy costs, improve health and indoor air quality or involve renewable energy technologies,” providing an opportunity for recipients to make building systems improvements, assisted by integrators of building systems that often link HVAC, lighting and other systems with alarms and other enabling sensor technologies.
New Domestic Preference Requirements
In a significant change from existing law, the infrastructure measure extends “Buy America”-type domestic preferences to all future federally funded infrastructure projects, regardless of whether funded specifically by the bill. This is different that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009, where expanded domestic preferences applied only to infrastructure projects funded through ARRA.
The measure also provides a new definition of “infrastructure” to which these requirements apply: 1) roads, highways and bridges; 2) public transportation; 3) dams, ports, harbors and other maritime facilities; 4) intercity passenger and freight railroads; 5) freight and intermodal facilities; 6) airports; 7) waters systems including drinking water and wastewater systems; 8) electric transmission facilities and utilities; 9) broadband infrastructure; and 10) buildings and real property.
Previously, Buy America rules were limited primarily for federal grant-funded projects (distinct from the Buy American Act, which applies to direct government procurement), administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, along with agency specific policies on domestic content calculations and waivers. Under the infrastructure measure, many of the same requirements will newly apply to other agencies and programs that will need to implement them. The new infrastructure measure significantly expands domestic preference rules for federally funded infrastructure projects and includes additional policies impacting direct procurement by federal agencies.
The Security Industry Association recommends that security industry manufacturers and integrators play close attention to these policies. Find more information on its website.