Unified Solutions and Emerging Technologies
Recent innovations in security software will allow the end user to look beyond the fence
- By Cheryl Stewart
- Mar 01, 2022
Large scale infrastructure environments, like airports and critical infrastructure sites, present a
physical security challenge. Limited awareness of the entire perimeter of a facility can result in intrusions and present issues for physical and cyber-attacks. With a traditional perimeter monitoring system, operators are only alerted to a potential breach of restricted areas after the fence has been touched.
Physical security strategies have traditionally focused on securing the perimeter. And with good reason. The goal is to stop dangerous elements or intruders from gaining access to an internal environment. As physical security evolves, the perimeter remains a vital concern.
For large-scale environments, like airports and critical infrastructure sites, securing the perimeter is made more complicated by size. When an organization has limited awareness of its entire perimeter, it is more susceptible to intrusions that can lead to physical security breaches and cyberattacks.
New and emerging technologies, such as drones, are also having an impact. With an estimated million drones entering the world's airspace each month, drone detection has become a hot topic in the discussion around perimeter protection. Some are used as flying security cameras as part of a coordinated security installation, but others might be used for malicious intent. Therefore, it is important to know why a drone is there, and be able to trace where it is going, to ensure that its purpose is legal and coordinated.
Many organizations are now asking how they can effectively protect their perimeter and prevent breaches. The answer is to deploy a unified security system and then incorporate new technologies as part of a more comprehensive perimeter strategy.
Good Perimeter Security Requires a Layered Approach
Conceptually, it is easy to think that a facility has a single perimeter that must be secured. Traditionally, securing the perimeter meant deploying a security system that would be triggered when a person or entity touched the fence line. This approach oversimplifies the reality of today’s perimeters as most facilities now have multiple, overlapping perimeters, each with its own rights of access, risk profile and operational requirements.
As a result, an organization cannot rely exclusively on any one sensor or analytic to detect intrusion. A layered approach is needed to build perimeter security that ensures all is not lost should one method fail. A layered security installation employs a combination of sensor technologies to create more than one active line of defense.
Recent innovations in security technology allow security personnel to redefine perimeter security by giving them the ability to look beyond the fence line and get more specific about what they should be monitoring and how. These innovations make it possible for organizations to detect potential unauthorized intrusions beyond the perimeter by implementing a multi-layered approach that involves a variety of technologies, including heat maps, intrusion detection sensors like radars, LiDARs, lasers and fence sensors as well as video analytics cameras, access control and other standalone systems.
Unifying Systems is Key
When an organization does not unify its security systems and technologies on a single platform, and instead relies rely on vendor integration, it can create gaps in information or an incomplete view of the perimeter. To ensure that these systems do not work in unconnected siloes, it is important to put in place a unified approach to cross qualify incidents and intrusions alerts.
A unified physical security platform helps connect the dots between the data collected by these different systems to provide the situational awareness necessary to keep facilities and people safe. The Genetec™ Security Center open-architecture platform, for example, enables organizations to unify video surveillance, access control, intrusion, communications, and automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) systems to better protect and manage the perimeter.
Through its RSA (restricted security area) surveillance module, Security Center integrates with a growing array of RSA technology and devices, such as radar and laser-based solutions to help security teams detect potential threats across wide areas. Automatically tracked on geographical maps, moving targets are intuitively displayed so that security staff can assess and respond to threats in less time.
By presenting all breach information, threats, and potential intrusions together, a unified system enables operators to make critical decisions quickly. This enables organizations to deploy high-resolution cameras to capture clear, long-range images to complement perimeter detection. The system can be configured in such a way that the first line of perimeter detection at the fence prompts alerts that will trigger these cameras to automatically pan, tilt and zoom into target areas for visual identification. The video surveillance footage will then be sent directly to the security monitoring center or the security director’s smart phone for immediate verification and response.
Managing these devices and alarms directly from an integrated mapping system can further help operators quickly pinpoint other nearby cameras to get a broader view of the situation. By combining perimeter detection, high-resolution cameras and location mapping tools within a unified platform, an organization can improve response times and minimize the risk of breaches going undetected.
Identifying Potential Threats is Critical
The early identification of potential threats at the perimeter gives security operators time to prepare a response and take any necessary action. By proactively extending security using LiDAR technology and seismic sensors, security personnel can monitor movements and watch for potential intrusions outside the fence line.
But knowing that something is about to breach a secure perimeter doesn’t tell you whether a threat is real or how serious it is. Sensors could be detecting a cat, a person or a car. The ability to see who or what is approaching a perimeter helps security staff make the right decisions about threat levels as well as what actions need to be taken.
Assessing an incident at a fence or other restricted area is made easier when security staff have eyes on the scene. By classifying threats visually and pulling relevant data from multiple systems, security staff can identify if an intrusion requires immediate action. Using filtering features, security teams can also we can also filter objects (humans vs. animals for instance) in different zones to reduce nuisance alarms.
Effective video surveillance, using high-resolution cameras and infrared, enables security operators to evaluate an incident, determine what is happening, and then identify the actions necessary to respond to the situation.
As part of the assessment process, security staff can also use ALPR readers to scan vehicles to help identify an intruder’s threat level. For example, if a plate is on a police hotlist, security teams would know to alert the police and respond with greater caution.
Physical Identity and Access Management Systems (PIAMS) add another layer to the process by connecting access control to business systems, including human resource directories. This interconnectivity allows organizations to automatically assign or remove access to restricted areas based on corporate policies. As employees leave or change roles within an organization, their access to sensitive areas can be adjusted to reflect changes in the HR directory or other linked systems.
The Importance of Managing all that Data
As organizations deploy more sensors at the perimeter, they increase the amount of information coming in. This can become overwhelming for security staff, especially when they must actively monitor all the input from these sensors to identify specific threats.
A unified security system that supports greater automation can help. Automated alerts, alongside digitized standard operating procedures (SOPs) that guide staff step-by-step on how to respond to events, can help ensure that possible threats are identified, investigated and resolved in a timely and consistent manner across different shift patterns and individuals.
In some cases, a potential security threat can be difficult for a person to spot. For example, an operator might not be able to connect the dots between a contractor unexpectedly entering a restricted area and a device going offline. But a unified security system could easily correlate those events and quickly flag them, automatically alerting the operator to investigate further.
The ability to fuse event data is also important for ensuring perimeter security. Operators must understand events as they occur in order to make informed decisions based on threat levels. A unified security system provides greater situational awareness for operators by fusing together reports and alerts from all modules currently running on the platform. This is critical as it allows an emerging situation to be seen from all parts of the system as a single event rather than a series of separate incidents.
When it comes to protecting the perimeter, you need to a layered approach that will allow you to extend security beyond the fence line. By selecting a unified system that can incorporate a wide variety of new technologies, you can better secure your facilities today and in the future.
This article originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of Security Today.