Tuesday, July 23, 2024

So How do You Electrify the World’s Largest Single-Owner Vehicle Fleet?


As the old joke goes . . . ‘you do it carefully!’

As part of the U.S. Federal Government’s journey to net zero, the Department of Defense (DoD) will transition its non-combat vehicle fleets to electric vehicles (EVs). It will likely be one of the largest single-owner fleet transitions worldwide, operating across various vehicle types, functions, locations, and operating conditions. In such an undertaking, there will be many design and implementation decisions, including those considering network connections and security.

Solutions for EV-Charging at Any Scale within the Mission Context

Through our global experience with EV-Charging connectivity solutions, we at Cisco have seen the importance that customers place on the ease of operations, management, and security. As such, we have developed and validated solutions that are simple, scalable, and flexible, with a focus on operations processes that are both field and operations center friendly.

  • Centralized network device management and asset operation capabilities can eliminate the need for manual asset tracking and reduce inconsistencies in deployed configurations.
  • Integration with operations can help ensure that field technicians can easily deploy and manage these devices without requiring Information Technology (IT) support on site.
  • Connectivity solutions can incorporate visibility solutions, giving both the IT and EV charging teams tools to monitor physical and cybersecurity over deployed equipment.

Cisco EV-Charging solutions support a wide range of scenarios – major facilities that support large-scale, centralized EV fleet charging; distributed moderate-scale charging sites; small, remote sites that host only a few vehicles; and third-party commercially operated sites that may be used periodically by drivers traveling from point-to-point.

  • On the main installation, at-scale fleet-level charging solutions typically connect over Operational Technology (OT) networks via ruggedized industrial gateways, routers, and switches for edge compute capability and to connect large numbers of charge points at a single site over fiber.
  • Across the main installation and/or its satellite locations, distributed sites support a moderate number of charge points connected to the main installation OT networks via ruggedized, industrial switches over existing backhaul (DSL, fiber, or cellular).
  • At the edge, low-demand locations typically connect to the main installation OT networks using Cisco secure, mobility solutions (Umbrella, Secure Client, and Secure Endpoint) leveraging charge point hosted cellular modems.
  • For connections via third party EV-Charging points, the same Cisco secure mobility solutions can connect with your organically-hosted EV-Charging Management System or to your preferred service provider via a locally available connectivity solution.
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From the security perspective, Cisco Zero Trust solutions can extend your enterprise Information Technology (IT) and into your Operational Technology (OT) security posture and provide visibility to every point of connection.

For more on solutions for securing your IT and OT networks see commentary by Cisco’s Andy Stewart on Zero Trust for Government Networks and see Steve Vetter’s blog on the Necessity of IT and OT Alignment for Better Mission and Business Outcomes. For even more, see our OT network visibility solutions – Cyber Vision.

Who will be in the Conversation?

So, let’s look at who will typically be involved in EV-Charging deployment discussions and highlight key considerations for design and implementation that will inform network architecture design and feature selection to help ensure security and operational availability.

Virtually any EV-Charging solution design, implementation, operation and sustainment planning will include a range of stakeholders, including those representing the interests of the mission operations community, the vehicle operations and management community, the civil engineering community, networking operations community, and the sustainability community office.

  • For the mission operations community, decisions on phasing and implementation may be influenced by operational tempo. For example, there may be, in the force training cycle, periods in which there is little tolerance for mission continuity disruption such as a training period that precedes an ‘on-call period’ and, on the other hand, there may be periods such as a ‘reset period’ that may have a reduced mission impact.
  • For the vehicle operations and maintenance community, the decisions on phasing and implementation may be location/utilization-based priority. For example, does the effort begin with distributed vehicle fleet (i.e. those vehicles that primarily park and operate in specific areas of the base) or does the transition begin with the concentrated vehicle fleets (i.e. those that park and operate from a defined area such as the motor pool or functional centers of operations)?
  • For the civil and electrical engineering community, it may be important to outline the implementation strategy – will it be a single-phase effort across the entire installation, a zone-based phasing stepping through defined areas on a priority basis, or will it be function-based phasing (i.e. base support, logistics, operations) on a scale or impact basis? Lastly, consideration must be given to the electrical requirements and the timeframe required to secure necessary power upgrades.
  • For the network operations community, mission operations, mission support, and installation infrastructure considerations are typically key drivers in EV-Charging connectivity planning. Beyond connectivity, network operations teams will generally consider mission alignment for access control, segmentation, asset visibility, network operations, security oversight, and prioritization strategies.
  • For the sustainability community, a priority will likely be orchestrating the conversations among stakeholders and coordinating the formation of a funded program that can meet requirements across the full range of stakeholders with an implementation plan that can meet future mission requirements while driving towards net zero goals.
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Beyond these enterprise stakeholders, the conversation can, in some cases, go further to include interfacing with municipal local, state, and national authorities.

Getting Your EV-Transition Journey Started

With that as an overview, it is time to get started – let’s work together to implement secure connectivity solutions for your mission-aligned EV-Charging solution! We understand that transforming non-combat vehicle operations to EVs can be an important part of your journey to net zero. So, capitalize on global EV-Charging connectivity deployment experience with Cisco and our partners to leverage best practices and our Cisco Validated Designs.

For more information on Cisco and EV-Charging Solutions, see:

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