On Target: Pinpointing the Perimeter Security Challenges of Today’s Military Bases
It is an unfortunate truth that military bases, filled with individuals dedicated to keeping America safe, sometimes come under threat within their own country. Incidents like the 2009 Fort Hood shooting and the 2013 killings at the Washington Navy Yard serve as reminders that the military is not immune to the threat of violence and crime.
- By Dave Tynan
- Apr 01, 2014
One might think that a military base is among the most
secure places in the country. Unfortunately, though, the
sprawling nature of military bases makes them difficult
to secure effectively, which leaves these sites vulnerable
to a wide range of threats. Facilities strive to limit access to unauthorized
individuals. However, in both the Washington Navy Yard
and Fort Hood incidents, the shooter was authorized to be on site,
which complicated the security issue. How do security officials guard
against both external and internal threats? How can those threats
quickly and accurately be identified in an environment where weapons
are common and many individuals wear very similar clothing?
The answer is improved situational awareness to enable immediate
response of any incidents or threats. Following the Fort Hood
incident, the Pentagon recommended tighter security for military
bases and increased training for live shooter situations. However,
with tight budgets and challenging security needs, many facilities
The need to protect resources and military personnel is paramount,
but is often beyond the scope of traditional technology
systems due to the size, geographic make-up and risk profile of a
military facility. Therefore, military bases often turn to perimeter
fencing, access control and outdoor surveillance to deter violence at
the perimeter and enable fast response when a breach occurs.
Surveillance systems are often limited by infrastructure requirements,
such as power and cabling. However, wireless surveillance
technology is finding traction as a solution to increase the safety of
military bases while eliminating the cost and complexity of trenching
for power and data transmission.
New Levels of Awareness
Situational awareness and real-time response are particularly important
on military bases, which are both places of work and often
home to thousands of people. As these sites face threats ranging from
sophisticated terrorist attacks to petty acts of vandalism and crime,
it is important to control unauthorized access to sensitive areas and
monitor access across a far-reaching infrastructure. As military bases
are government-funded, the sites are in need of a dependable system
that won’t break the bank.
Emerging wireless surveillance solutions can help bridge the gap
between budget requirements and security needs. Video surveillance
improves situational awareness, decreases incident response times
and enables security operators to be more proactive. For military bases
with large, open areas, multiple buildings and remote perimeters,
wireless surveillance technology is a better fit than traditional systems.
Hardwired surveillance systems often require long cable runs
and expensive, time-intensive trenching projects. Wireless systems,
on the other hand, can be quickly installed—and relocated as needs
evolve. Systems can be placed almost anywhere, such as at a military
base’s perimeter, near an important entry and exit point, or at a remote
building. Visibility increases, and security officials benefit from
greater situational intelligence, without breaking the budget.
Wireless technologies are more robust, proven and reliable in highsecurity
applications, and they are “green” technologies that allow
users to realize a reduction in environmental impact. Today’s solar
power systems are optimized to work efficiently on cloudy days by
the use of lithium ion batteries that enhance the reliability of solar
technology. These batteries are continually charged on sunny days
and, therefore, are fully powered when weather conditions are less
In the video surveillance world, lithium ion technology enables
technologies to run for up to five cloudy days at a time. This capability
helps to ensure round-the-clock video coverage of an area without
the need for a traditional power supply.
Proven, Reliable Systems
In the military market, technologies must be low-cost, reliable, proven
and effective. Furthermore, devices must be able to integrate easily
with other networked platforms to further enhance security intelligence.
These requirements apply to existing surveillance infrastructure,
IP-based devices, building management systems and intelligent
offerings, such as video analytics. Solutions that can easily integrate
with existing or future systems deliver more value than closed systems,
and can easily be expanded on as security needs change.
Self-contained camera systems—those that combine solar energy
and low-power wireless video transmission—can provide great return-on-investment due to their ease of redeployment. Systems can easily be moved from one location to another to provide a dynamic and adaptive
approach to video surveillance coverage. In the case of a special
event that requires additional security and video coverage, cameras can
be added on an ad hoc basis, with no need to run wires or pay other
Video surveillance is an integral part of a military base’s security
solution and wireless systems remove the restrictions experienced
with traditional cameras in perimeter security applications. With
new achievements in technology, military bases benefit from increased
perimeter detection, system mobility, enhanced safety, greater
accountability and increased return-on-investment.
It is difficult to argue that we can fully eliminate that threat of
violence on military bases. However, with the right technology, in the
right place, the risks can be mitigated, and lives can be saved.
A large military base on the West Coast is leveraging the solar wireless
surveillance solution from MicroPower Technologies to deter
and prevent theft.
The facility serves as a base for military operations and provides
training assistance to active and reserves units, as well as national,
state and local agencies. Following an increase in break-ins and thefts
at an on-site warehouse, the base sought a surveillance solution to
monitor high-risk areas near the facility and along its perimeter.
The customer required a video surveillance solution to enable the
facility to take advantage of new developments in technology to develop
a stronger security posture. The deployment of MicroPower’s
Helios solution reduces the likelihood of theft and crime at the warehouse
and enables the base to redeploy the cameras as its risk profile
changes—a valuable proposition for large military bases faced with
evolving security threats.
The installation at the military base includes MicroPower wireless,
solar-powered cameras and one wireless hub, which interfaces with an
Arteco network video recorder (NVR) and video management system
for the viewing, storage and recording of video. The video hub passes
surveillance footage to the video management platform, where it can
be analyzed and recorded. One camera currently covers more than 300
feet of fence line along the back of the warehouse building, and two
other cameras cover the side and front fence of the protected premises.
The surveillance system is based on a reliable proprietary wireless
protocol and delivers ultra-low power consumption. The camera consumes
half a watt of power, while comparable wireless surveillance
devices consume six to 10 watts. With the system, the military facility
can maximize captured video, and expand and extend the reach of its
surveillance infrastructure, without expensive labor costs and extensive
capital equipment outlays.
The system is reliable and proven in the government market. It
leverages network infrastructure to ensure continuous operation—
critical for surveillance users—and uses patented technology to deliver
significant improvements in performance and power without
compromising video quality or reliability. With no wires or trenches
required, the military base has experienced significant cost and labor
savings, and realized a significant reduction in installation times over
traditional video systems.
This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Security Today.