Digital Dome to Protect Louisiana’s Energy Infrastructure

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Louisiana State University’s research entity has been awarded a $25m federal contract to create a digital dome capable of protecting the Pelican State's energy infrastructure from cyber-threats. 

State Governor John Bel Edwards announced on Monday that the contract to carry out the groundbreaking work had been won by Stephenson Technologies Corp. Over the next five years, the company will create a virtual construction capable of protecting Port Fourchon and America’s only offshore deepwater port, Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP).

Over 250 companies operate at Port Fourchon, which serves 90% of deepwater oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico and handles around 15% of America's shipments of domestic and foreign oil. Daily traffic at the port can involve around 400 capacious supply vessels. 

The digital dome will defend these assets by collecting, interpreting, and fusing electromagnetic signals in the area spanning Port Fourchon and its connection to LOOP. Cyber-threats will be neutralized after detection, and any intelligence gathered concerning nautical risks affecting vessels, passengers, and cargo will be passed on to coastal enforcement agencies. 

Inspiration for the digital dome project came from an all-weather air defense system established in Israel in 2011. 

“Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this project is we first envisioned it on our economic development mission to Israel in 2018,” Governor Edwards said. 

“In viewing the Iron Dome that Israel created to protect its air defense systems, we glimpsed what Stephenson Technologies Corporation could create to protect our nation’s most vital energy gateway at Port Fourchon.”

Edwards added that the project would be a boost to the state’s burgeoning IT and cybersecurity industries.  

“Not only will this project provide critical protection for the US energy supply, STC’s work will advance Louisiana’s growing base of cybersecurity and IT talent,” he said. 

Funding for the digital dome project was awarded from the US Department of Defense’s Naval Research Laboratory.

LSU established Stephenson Technologies Corp. in 2016 with support from Louisiana Economic Development. The entity’s creation was part of the university's strategy to strengthen its support of the defense community. Since its creation, Stephenson has gathered more than $60m in contract awards.

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