From Fences and Bollards

From Fences and Bollards

The stand-off threat detection: The evolving face of perimeter security

In the United States alone, there are around 230 military bases and globally, more than 700 U.S. installations—collectively amounting to more than 1.38 million troops that live and/or work on base. Consider the average major sporting event in the United States—it typically involves tens of thousands of spectators all of whom are entering a venue at one given time.

Due to the substantial amount of people in a set place, combined with countless entry points, military bases, event venues and government buildings have become a hotbed for potential terror threats. And while the threat of global terrorism has greatly increased awareness over the security of critical infrastructure, the need for effective perimeter control has never been more imperative.

Because of the sprawling nature of many military bases and event sites, they have become increasingly difficult to secure effectively—leaving these sites vulnerable to a wide range of threats. Trained guards combined with traditional perimeter security solutions (such as fences and surveillance systems) is simply no longer adequate to protect critical infrastructure or sensitive border zones from terror attacks, unauthorized entry or hostile penetration.

Today’s perimeter security must involve an integrated solution that can provide real-time information relays and an infrastructure that can work with both legacy equipment and the latest cutting edge solutions to combat the aggressive and ever-changing threat landscape.

Beyond a Fence: Developing an Integrated Perimeter

High-security fences, concrete security bollards and surveillance equipment may have been enough to cover the basic level of security needed previously, but in today’s threat climate security personnel need to realign their views of what should be included for a complete perimeter security strategy.

What agencies and organizations need to do is integrate solutions such as stand-off threat detection, cargo screening and non-intrusive detection to the perimeter security mix. While established solutions like fences, bollards and surveillance are still an integral part of the overall perimeter strategy and should continue to be used, additional solutions should be incorporated to provide security operators with a holistic view of the entire security landscape.

Successful border and perimeter protection requires unified communication capabilities and early warning systems. This, along with continuous real-time monitoring and control allows personnel to react immediately to events—day or night—providing them with the most time possible to mitigate threats. To do this, organizations need an integrated security system that allows them to monitor border perimeter, checkpoints, buildings, and compounds, anytime, and from a single location. Security solutions that are integrated into a seamless network of wide area surveillance and detection capabilities allow for real-time intrusion detection and situational awareness to be known from a given central command center.

And while this integration is key for efficiency, it’s not enough for just newly purchased and installed technologies to work together either—these pieces should also work with existing components of a security operation. Given ongoing budget cuts, starting a security concept from scratch is rarely an option— nor does it need to be. Legacy technologies hold a key position in the organization of a security strategy making it vital that the new can work with the old seamlessly.

Additionally, perimeter security technology should not only be easily adaptable for the changing threat landscape, but also should be able to grow or contract based on changing patterns and throughput. It’s likely that the Super Bowl will attract many more spectators than a typical regular season football game, which places an emphasis on increased throughput. The security strategy (and its associated strategies) must be able to adapt to this new demand in a reasonable period of time. Organizations need to ensure that all technologies considered for their security strategy can not only evolve to meet new threats, but also adapt to meet changes on the organizational end, like growing or shrinking traffic demands.

Next Generation Solutions

Integrated perimeter security is the best bet when it comes to protecting critical infrastructure against a range of threats and hostile penetration. However, even with the advanced solutions that exist today, some of the most challenging aspects of perimeter security have yet to be solved.

For example: If a truck is driving towards a perimeter at 30 miles per hour, security personnel have a mere 3 to 4 seconds to decide if the truck needs to be neutralized. It becomes a nearly impossible decision every time and unfortunately there is no existing solution to help better guide security staff to what their best course of action should be.

However, one capability that does exist as of recent years is a solution to detect person-borne IEDs. In 2013, eighteen countries suffered the lethal results of suicide terrorism. Some 291 suicide bombings were carried out, causing approximately 3,100 deaths. That number represents a 25 percent increase in the number of attacks over the same period the previous year.

Thankfully, technology that can help combat that issue exists, has been extensively tested by the U.S. government and has been successfully deployed by the U.S. Armed Forces in all recent major conflicts, as well as other volatile areas around the globe, since 2008.

Radar-based threat detection solutions can identify concealed personborne threats such as suicide vests and weapons—all at stand-off distances, providing security operators with valuable time to decipher and neutralize the threat. Using optional remote networking capabilities, today’s stand-off detection solution features state-of-the-art video steered radar technology that can identify a threat even when the system operator is hundreds of miles away.

Not limited to suicide vests, one known system of this type can also detect other concealed threats such as handguns, machine pistols, pipe bombs and grenades, making it an ideal solution for perimeter security at high-profile locations such as government buildings, transit systems and military installations.

Preparing for a Secure Future

While many challenges have yet to be answered when it comes to perimeter security, we no longer are limited to antiquated solutions that only paint a modicum of the full security picture that is needed. With an integrated solution, these new technologies can be combined with legacy systems already in place to combat problems that didn’t have a viable solution in the past and future proof an organization for solutions that are to come.

By creating a perimeter security strategy that takes into account the full security landscape and assimilating all solutions together, organizations can now communicate issues with enough time for something to be done about it before the threat causes harm.

This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Security Today.

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