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Alarm Redirection to SMS: What’s the Risk?

Mobile technology has undoubtedly become an integral part in our day-to-day lives, whether it be in the form of a smartphone or tablet. For the pipeline SCADA world, the roles and risks of mobile technology have yet to be fully uncovered. For example, a controller for one of our customers recently posed this question:

“I was wondering if there was a way to get the alarms sent via text to our cell phones. I thought that once we log in to [the SCADA system], it could automatically send us texts for the alarms. Then when we logged off, we wouldn’t get them anymore. Not sure if this is possible, but I thought it would be better than carrying around a tablet if we were to step out for a few minutes.”

It would be possible to do so, but does it make sense? From this user’s stand-point, it would be simpler to check your phone rather than carry a tablet; however, the concept must be valid under both the PHMSA CRM Rule and the related best practices discerned from Human Factors Science.

So, what does the Control Room Management rule have to say?

49 CFR 195.446 (c) (1) Provide adequate information. Each operator must provide its controllers with the information, tools, processes and procedures necessary for the controllers to carry out the roles and responsibilities the operator has defined by implementing API RP 1165 (incorporated by reference, see §195.3) whenever a SCADA system is added, expanded or replaced, unless the operator demonstrates that certain provisions of API RP 1165 are not practical for the SCADA system used.”