Perimeter Arsenal

Perimeter Arsenal

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 success.

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 desired location.

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 most environments.

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.


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