Intelligent Outdoor Video For CFATS Chemical Facilities

Facilities that manufacture, store or transport dangerous chemicals operate in a challenging environment with expanding regulatory compliance and security costs.  Automated surveillance systems designed specifically for protecting large outdoor areas are now available to help address Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) regulations while also lowering the associated costs.

While CFATS regulations do not prescribe specific technologies they do provide Risk-Based Performance Standards to assist chemical facilities in selecting and implementing appropriate protective measures to reduce vulnerability and manage risk.  Best practices are now emerging to help implement the appropriate technologies to defend against the unauthorized release, theft, or sabotage of Chemicals of Interest.  

The Role of Intelligent Video

Speed is paramount when thwarting an intruder who seeks to compromise operations. The CFATS Risk-Based Performance Standards specifically call for creating sufficient time between detection of an attack and preventing danger to site assets. In this model, early and accurate detection is critical to maintain a high level of vigilance. Various technologies exist that can provide early detection around the perimeter but knowing the size, location and nature of an event as it unfolds is key to mobilizing an effective response.

Of all the automated detection technologies (fence sensors, fiber optics, seismic sensors, etc.) only video provides the intrinsic detail to display and record the “what and where” of an alert without need for additional verification systems. Intelligent video when designed for the outdoors can detect and evaluate the presence of unauthorized persons over buffer zones and large perimeters to provide early warning and actionable data.   

Until recently, there has been disappointment among customers applying intelligent video to outdoor applications due to the nuisance alarms associated with widely varying environment of lighting, wind, reflection, and weather. The number of nuisance alarms can be so overwhelming that security teams ultimately disregard the alerts, diluting the functionality of the security system.

With the innovation of cameras with substantially more on-board image processing, intelligent video systems are now available to accurately detect the presence of unauthorized persons over site perimeters and outdoor areas.

These smart cameras are designed to filter the effects of environmental elements and provide detection over large areas, regardless of wind, weather or the movement of small animals, trees or blowing trash. When security operations receive accurate information they will mount an appropriate response to the nature of the alert. Such a system yields the necessary “security awareness” around the perimeter and internal site assets to meet these CFATS requirements.
Achieving security awareness is dependent on knowing the precise location and nature of an intrusion. For this reason, intelligent video cameras can be designed to employ GPS-based analytics that determine the size, speed and bearing of detected objects according to their precise location. This information can be used to superimpose the location of detected targets onto a site map of the facility for real-time, coordinated response. The same GPS information can also be used to steer PTZ cameras to zoom and follow detected objects for close-up identification once the intrusion has been detected. CFATS also requires that systems monitor their health and provide alerts should they cease to function, a capability that should be built into any security system that requires systemic accountability.
Intelligent video cameras are an economical solution as well. The same image processing that gives smart cameras their outdoor detection accuracy also gives them extended range. Some cameras can automatically detect human-sized objects at distances that exceed 600 meters. As a result, infrastructure requirements (poles, communications and power) can be greatly reduced, lowering overall project costs substantially. The dependability of an intelligent video-based system designed for a high degree of accuracy in the outdoors also helps strengthen the effectiveness of existing manpower.

Protecting Internal Assets

In addition to perimeter security, intelligent video surveillance of outdoor areas is a valuable tool related to other CFATS Risk-Based Performance Standards. These include screening and monitoring restricted areas where chemicals of interest are manufactured, stored or used, deterring insider sabotage, and dealing with specific threats, vulnerabilities or risks.

For example, intelligent video can play an important role in protecting internal assets, which often do not have the same types of physical or man-made boundaries found around the perimeter. In most cases, adding additional infrastructure around chemical storage tanks would be costly and likely impede the flow of business operations. In this case intelligent video can be used to create a surveillance “buffer zone” around areas of special concern to control access to volatile areas based on time of day or other criteria to mitigate possible sabotage or theft from insiders.

Intelligent video serves the chemical facility user’s need to know what is happening, and precisely where in real time. Regulating “results” rather than “methods” leaves the end-user's options open to embrace best-in-class technologies to provide the necessary levels of security. Intelligent video used at a facility's perimeter -- and to monitor outdoor areas inside a facility -- is an example of how technology has met a security challenge to deliver a superior and cost-effective solution.

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