New tools provide optimal first line of defense
While technology advances in physical security for buildings
and building proximity have been rapid and omnipresent,
new tools for improved perimeter security have not been as
visible, yet they still play an important role in overall security
Environments such as large parking lots, stadiums, nuclear facilities, parks and
recreational areas, construction facilities, correctional facilities, industrial facilities,
government buildings and major transportation facilities continue to represent
significant security challenges, because ideal solutions are cost-prohibitive
due to the difficulty of the terrain or vast spaces of coverage required.
The number of variables and technology choices to consider for perimeter security
is significantly greater than for indoor security, making the final decision for
perimeter security a difficult and arduous task.
Numerous Detection Choices
To effectively analyze overall perimeter security choices it helps to divide security
components into four major categories: access, detection, prevention and conviction.
The security industry has seen an expansion of choices in the number of
technology options for the detection aspect. New technologies have brought improvements
in range detections while rapidly decreasing overall system costs.
Beyond traditional security guards, the more sophisticated options for access
control and detection systems for perimeter security now include fence movement,
microwave sensors, seismic ground sensors, infrared sensors, photo beam sensors,
thermal imaging and video surveillance with motion detection, and video analytics.
Each has a tradeoff between operational benefits and costs.
As is evident from the chart, most access control solutions have the potential
for a large number of false alarms. In outdoor settings, environmental factors such
as high wind, debris, ice, water and animals can create havoc for any perimeter
security solution. A comprehensive solution to address false alarms is as important
as the actual detection system itself, because false alarms affect the system’s
effectiveness and credibility. In addition, false alarms can be costly, as numerous
law enforcement agencies now charge for responding to false alarms.
Remote Camera Video Surveillance Options
Any reliable verification system for perimeter security has to include a video surveillance
system. Not only do video surveillance systems provide the ability for
immediate verification based on a triggered event, they provide the ability to quantify
the seriousness should a valid security breach occur and determine the best response.
The proper security response will vary, depending on whether the intruder
is an unsuspecting person who has inadvertently crossed the intrusion detection
zone or a team of terrorists attacking a facility.
In addition, video surveillance systems address three of the major categories—
detection, prevention and conviction. Unfortunately, integrating remote camera
locations into video surveillance systems for perimeter security has been limited in
scope, making it difficult to develop a comprehensive perimeter security strategy.
The typical compromise is to locate security cameras near the building or other
power sources and point the cameras outward to the perimeter, covering the sterile
regions and perhaps portions outside the perimeter. This is not an optimal perimeter
security strategy and does not cover an important aspect of security: breach prevention.
An ideal prevention strategy analyzes events outside the sterile region, allowing
the user to monitor potential security events in advance of a valid security breach.
The largest limitation on the location of remote cameras where they are desired
or required is lack of power. Typical IP video security cameras require four to five
watts, which necessitates a cabled power source. Until recently, there were two options
an organization would consider in a no-power situation: wireless-enabled,
solar-powered security cameras or trenching the ground to bring power to the
Wireless solar security cameras provide the maximum flexibility in location
strategies for remote security cameras. Typical wireless solar security cameras
use 160 to 400 square inches of solar panels that reside at least 15 feet above the
ground and connect to either a small trailer base or a pole. Wireless communications
to the video recording system can occur point-to-point, point-to-multipoint,
through mesh networks or even via cellular, providing a range of three to 20 miles
for a line-of-sight configuration.
A typical system will have five days of battery backup, providing adequate energy
storage for most applications. Pole-mounted solutions range from $5,000 to
$10,000 per camera, including labor costs. Unfortunately, due to size and transportation
of the small trailer base, costs can be prohibitive for many applications,
because they range from $30,000 to $40,000 for each camera.
Trenching is often seen as the most viable option for placing security cameras
in these optimal remote locations. The trench is typically a minimum of six inches
deep, which allows placement of a PoE or power source in the trench without any
possibility of disturbance. The cost for trenching varies dramatically depending
on the terrain.
For instance, in a request for proposal, it was estimated the costs for digging a
120-foot trench through mostly soft dirt with 15 feet of asphalt was approximately
$14,000 for material and labor for a single camera placement. This equated to
about $100 per linear foot in trenching costs.
In this case, the cost was prohibitive, and the client decided not to pursue the
recommendation of the remote camera location. In other cases, particularly in
urban environments, the cost is considerably higher, sometimes up to $1,000 per
linear foot, due to the difficult construction. Thus,
trenching costs can range from $30,000 to $40,000.
Fortunately, a new generation of IP video security
camera has recently become available, providing a
third alternative in remote camera location for optimal
perimeter security strategies. With power requirements
that are one-tenth that of a typical IP video security
camera, there is a new form factor for wireless
solar IP video security cameras, and the solar panel
requirements are considerably smaller. In this new
generation, 72 square inches of solar panels are attached
directly to the external camera enclosure. The
battery life is five days, providing adequate power in
With a wireless transmission range of up to one
mile for a line-of-sight environment, this camera
needs wires for neither data communication nor
power. This new generation of wireless solar IP video
security camera is a fully self-contained unit that allows
for placement virtually at any remote location.
Because it is a self-contained unit, installation costs
are quite low, even compared with an installation of
wired security solutions. The advantage of this newgeneration
technology is that individual camera costs
range from $2,500 to $3,500, a 50- to 90-percent reduction
in costs over alternative solutions.
While the primary attraction of this new generation
of IP video security cameras is their applicability
for perimeter security, their portability also provides opportunities for applications not previously considered. For instance, public events such as stadium concerts
or official government speeches can wreak havoc on security teams, because the protection zone is so small
and intruder access is quite simple. Security officials can implement these easy-to-install temporary security
cameras and re-use them later, making this an attractive financial option.
Protecting the Perimeter
Vulnerability begins at a facility’s perimeter. Active perimeter strategies focused beyond the perimeter provide
the best chance of preventing a security breach by detecting and deterring activity before loss or damage occurs.
While the technology choices for access control and intruder detection have grown rapidly, such choices
are limited in scope and commonly have the potential for numerous false alarms. An optimal perimeter security
strategy requires the inclusion of remote camera locations within the video surveillance system to verify intrusions,
record events for investigations and potentially convict intruders.
With the most recent innovations in solar wireless IP video security camera options, the
inclusion of remote cameras around the perimeter is a viable, cost-effective option not previously
available. Now, the system integrator has a new set of tools to present and provide costeffective
solutions for optimal perimeter security strategies.
This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of Security Today.