Remote Surveillance Application Power Challenges – is “Going Green” the Solution?

Powering portable and remote sensor applications remains one of the top issues facing any perimeter intrusion detection or critical infrastructure network.

Powering portable and remote sensor applications remains one of the top issues facing any perimeter intrusion detection or critical infrastructure network. Many high profile critical infrastructure targets are located in areas that challenge engineers to ensure consistent and redundant power sources. Contrary to popular thought, this isn’t just a border security problem. “Remote” may mean across campus, across town, or in extreme cases, literally out in the “middle of nowhere.” Assets that need protection and monitoring are any sites that are critical to business, safety, national security or infrastructure needs. Most recently, the Hurricane Sandy response was severely hampered by the lack of remote power. The inability to secure portable, renewable power to drive communications, surveillance and coordination equipment for first responders was a major roadblock.

Green energy solutions continue to be a federal government priority. Over the last few years, multiple federal programs, such as the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program have been implemented to reduce energy consumption across federal sites. These energy reduction programs will continue to expand as the current administration begins a new four year term. Similar programs are slated for Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funded critical infrastructure installations. FEMA continues to be the agency providing the largest portion of grant purchasing dollars for critical infrastructure security solutions across border, seaport, airport and urban area security vertical markets.

Compounding access to reliable power is the environment itself. Many critical infrastructure or response areas are challenged with extreme cold as well as extreme heat, often with severe wind and weather. Each impacts power generation separately. Sentry View Systems, based in Melbourne, Florida, has been designing and managing solutions for critical infrastructure surveillance and communications installations for over 10 years. During this time, Sentry View has run into every remote energy challenge imaginable, including severe blizzard conditions and extreme temperature swings. Justin Thompson, President of Sentry View Systems sums up the impact of severe weather on power generation and storage, “Severe weather is a major consideration in any remote application. Extreme cold can cause electronics to fail, mechanical systems to malfunction, sensors to freeze or any number of other issues. On the other hand, heat is always a concern because sensors, electronics and power management solutions are all heat generators themselves. When ambient temperature is extremely hot it becomes more and more difficult to pull heat out of these systems and keep them from overheating. Batteries lose storage capacity. Electronics cease to perform their functions properly, wiring and circuitry may be flexed beyond capacity by thermal expansion & contraction. If your solution is properly designed all of these potential problems can be handled effectively, but if it isn’t the solution is doomed to failure at a point in time when access for maintenance is troublesome, or impossible.”

Sentry View System solutions are used by the Air Force to ensure 100% uptime for the surveillance systems that protect the nation’s ICBM Minuteman missile launch silos, and are subject to persistent extreme weather and power challenges. Due to their solid performance, Sentry View has been selected five times as the solution of choice for the Air Force.

Manufacturers focus on ruggedizing sensor and surveillance equipment designed to withstand a large range of harsh environments. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for redundancy and resiliency of the power infrastructure to support these edge-based sensors.

Many security operators opt for a single remote power source, such as a generator. Occasionally a second single “green” renewable energy choice is selected, such as photovoltaic (solar) or wind turbine. Single solutions frequently fail, due to a lack of generator fuel and environmental conditions. A solar panel is of little use in an area with frequent cloud cover, snow and storms. Similarly, a wind turbine source is ineffective when wind is not a constant. Installations are subject to the full gamut of volatile weather and environmental challenges. In many cases, the lack of battery capacity to store energy from multiple power sources handicaps performance and limits sensor operation.

If simply “Going Green” doesn’t solve the problem – what is the solution?

A configurable, hybrid power system capable of using multiple generation methods, such as solar, wind, fuel-cell, generator and/or mains power, is the answer. This allows the solution to be configured with the best possible combination of power sources for a given application, thus maximizing system reliability. Justin Thompson, President of Sentry View Systems adds, “The ability to simultaneously store power generated from multiple sources ensures consistent power generation and storage while maximizing system sustainability. Devoting the same effort towards designing an integrated remote power generation solution that is expended on designing integrated surveillance, sensor and command and control systems is the pathway to guaranteed operability for remote and edge-based surveillance systems.”

For more information on renewable energy based solutions for remote and edge based surveillance applications, please visit

About Sentry View Systems:

Sentry View Systems, Inc. is a lean, agile and adaptive engineering and specialty manufacturing corporation. We specialize in creating ideal solutions for demanding, remote applications.

We build what no one else will, in ways that no one else can.

Sentry View Systems has a rich history in producing turnkey solutions for demanding remote applications for military and industrial clients. They have delivered and installed remote, SATCOM communications systems in Iraq, Kosovo and Angola. Sentry View has been on an annually renewed contract to provide remote communications services for the US DoD for over 10 years. They have been awarded repeat contracts five times to provide remote surveillance solutions for the USAF to monitor and protect Minuteman III ICBM launch facilities, and provide enhanced situational awareness for critical first responders. Sentry View delivers renewable energy remote power for surveillance systems on the US/Mexico border, and for hanger security at the Charles M. Schulz Regional Airport.

Sentry View Systems enhances the value of your team through custom engineering, specialty manufacturing, fabrication services and off-the-shelf, turnkey solutions and products.

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