On Target: Pinpointing the Perimeter Security Challenges of Today’s Military Bases

On Target: Pinpointing the Perimeter Security Challenges of Today’s Military Bases

It is an unfortunate truth that military bases, filled with individuals dedicated to keeping America safe, sometimes come under threat within their own country. Incidents like the 2009 Fort Hood shooting and the 2013 killings at the Washington Navy Yard serve as reminders that the military is not immune to the threat of violence and crime.

One might think that a military base is among the most secure places in the country. Unfortunately, though, the sprawling nature of military bases makes them difficult to secure effectively, which leaves these sites vulnerable to a wide range of threats. Facilities strive to limit access to unauthorized individuals. However, in both the Washington Navy Yard and Fort Hood incidents, the shooter was authorized to be on site, which complicated the security issue. How do security officials guard against both external and internal threats? How can those threats quickly and accurately be identified in an environment where weapons are common and many individuals wear very similar clothing?

The answer is improved situational awareness to enable immediate response of any incidents or threats. Following the Fort Hood incident, the Pentagon recommended tighter security for military bases and increased training for live shooter situations. However, with tight budgets and challenging security needs, many facilities remain under-secured.

The need to protect resources and military personnel is paramount, but is often beyond the scope of traditional technology systems due to the size, geographic make-up and risk profile of a military facility. Therefore, military bases often turn to perimeter fencing, access control and outdoor surveillance to deter violence at the perimeter and enable fast response when a breach occurs.

Surveillance systems are often limited by infrastructure requirements, such as power and cabling. However, wireless surveillance technology is finding traction as a solution to increase the safety of military bases while eliminating the cost and complexity of trenching for power and data transmission.

New Levels of Awareness

Situational awareness and real-time response are particularly important on military bases, which are both places of work and often home to thousands of people. As these sites face threats ranging from sophisticated terrorist attacks to petty acts of vandalism and crime, it is important to control unauthorized access to sensitive areas and monitor access across a far-reaching infrastructure. As military bases are government-funded, the sites are in need of a dependable system that won’t break the bank.

Emerging wireless surveillance solutions can help bridge the gap between budget requirements and security needs. Video surveillance improves situational awareness, decreases incident response times and enables security operators to be more proactive. For military bases with large, open areas, multiple buildings and remote perimeters, wireless surveillance technology is a better fit than traditional systems. Hardwired surveillance systems often require long cable runs and expensive, time-intensive trenching projects. Wireless systems, on the other hand, can be quickly installed—and relocated as needs evolve. Systems can be placed almost anywhere, such as at a military base’s perimeter, near an important entry and exit point, or at a remote building. Visibility increases, and security officials benefit from greater situational intelligence, without breaking the budget.

Power Range

Wireless technologies are more robust, proven and reliable in highsecurity applications, and they are “green” technologies that allow users to realize a reduction in environmental impact. Today’s solar power systems are optimized to work efficiently on cloudy days by the use of lithium ion batteries that enhance the reliability of solar technology. These batteries are continually charged on sunny days and, therefore, are fully powered when weather conditions are less than ideal.

In the video surveillance world, lithium ion technology enables technologies to run for up to five cloudy days at a time. This capability helps to ensure round-the-clock video coverage of an area without the need for a traditional power supply.

Proven, Reliable Systems

In the military market, technologies must be low-cost, reliable, proven and effective. Furthermore, devices must be able to integrate easily with other networked platforms to further enhance security intelligence. These requirements apply to existing surveillance infrastructure, IP-based devices, building management systems and intelligent offerings, such as video analytics. Solutions that can easily integrate with existing or future systems deliver more value than closed systems, and can easily be expanded on as security needs change.

Self-contained camera systems—those that combine solar energy and low-power wireless video transmission—can provide great return-on-investment due to their ease of redeployment. Systems can easily be moved from one location to another to provide a dynamic and adaptive approach to video surveillance coverage. In the case of a special event that requires additional security and video coverage, cameras can be added on an ad hoc basis, with no need to run wires or pay other infrastructure costs.

Video surveillance is an integral part of a military base’s security solution and wireless systems remove the restrictions experienced with traditional cameras in perimeter security applications. With new achievements in technology, military bases benefit from increased perimeter detection, system mobility, enhanced safety, greater accountability and increased return-on-investment.

It is difficult to argue that we can fully eliminate that threat of violence on military bases. However, with the right technology, in the right place, the risks can be mitigated, and lives can be saved.

Real-World Value

A large military base on the West Coast is leveraging the solar wireless surveillance solution from MicroPower Technologies to deter and prevent theft.

The facility serves as a base for military operations and provides training assistance to active and reserves units, as well as national, state and local agencies. Following an increase in break-ins and thefts at an on-site warehouse, the base sought a surveillance solution to monitor high-risk areas near the facility and along its perimeter.

The customer required a video surveillance solution to enable the facility to take advantage of new developments in technology to develop a stronger security posture. The deployment of MicroPower’s Helios solution reduces the likelihood of theft and crime at the warehouse and enables the base to redeploy the cameras as its risk profile changes—a valuable proposition for large military bases faced with evolving security threats.

The installation at the military base includes MicroPower wireless, solar-powered cameras and one wireless hub, which interfaces with an Arteco network video recorder (NVR) and video management system for the viewing, storage and recording of video. The video hub passes surveillance footage to the video management platform, where it can be analyzed and recorded. One camera currently covers more than 300 feet of fence line along the back of the warehouse building, and two other cameras cover the side and front fence of the protected premises.

The surveillance system is based on a reliable proprietary wireless protocol and delivers ultra-low power consumption. The camera consumes half a watt of power, while comparable wireless surveillance devices consume six to 10 watts. With the system, the military facility can maximize captured video, and expand and extend the reach of its surveillance infrastructure, without expensive labor costs and extensive capital equipment outlays.

The system is reliable and proven in the government market. It leverages network infrastructure to ensure continuous operation— critical for surveillance users—and uses patented technology to deliver significant improvements in performance and power without compromising video quality or reliability. With no wires or trenches required, the military base has experienced significant cost and labor savings, and realized a significant reduction in installation times over traditional video systems.

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Security Today.

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