Is Radar the Missing Piece to Your Perimeter
- By Yaron Zussman
- May 31, 2023
Traditional perimeter solutions that provide physical and visual barriers to unauthorized access to a site include long stretches of fencing, gates and other perimeter technologies, including video surveillance. These have been the mainstays offered by integrators for applications ranging from critical infrastructure facilities and data centers to car dealerships
Best practices dictate, however, that the optimal defense incorporates a layered approach, building on these exterior physical and visual barriers to include inner rings of detection, intelligent analysis and alerts to create a secure perimeter. Ideally, a perimeter security strategy should incorporate multiple tiers, beginning with a visual deterrent and an audio warning for the intruder. In addition, it should include early detection of a potential threat and then analysis of that threat to assist security staff in determining the most appropriate response.
Radar detection systems have evolved in recent years, becoming the go-to solution for reliable, cost-effective perimeter protection for facilities traditionally underserved by video surveillance and fences alone. Here are three reasons why radar is an important piece of a perimeter security plan.
Threat Analysis Using AI Radar Systems
Radar has been a go-to technology as part of a “rings of defense” strategy for many years, most heavily used in industries such as utilities, airports, military installations, and similar applications. Traditional radar technologies have provided superior detection of an incoming target or potential threat. However, as radar has been unable to provide any additional intelligence about the threat - whether human or animal, friend or foe - it has remained as one of the outer, more utilitarian circles of protection.
Enter AI, which is transforming security technologies, including radar solutions, by providing the ability to detect, analyze and notify the threat. Building on the multi-technology solutions approaches, modern radar solutions combine superior radar detection in all weather conditions with PTZ cameras and AI-infused software that determines whether the detected threat is local wildlife or a potential intruder.
Once a potential target is identified by the radar, a PTZ camera is directed to the location of the target. After the AI-video classifier classifies the target as human, animal, vehicle, or bike, software integrated into the customer’s video management platform can send an alert to operators of a verified event needing further identification.
Radar Reduces the Total Cost of Ownership for Integrator and End-user
The combination of radar, PTZ and AI-enabled software allows for a highly reliable system that provides many benefits to integrators selling perimeter security solutions. The technology enables integrators to provide a system that is often significantly less expensive than video surveillance perimeter systems – both in upfront capital costs as well as the total cost of ownership – and is lower in nuisance and false alarms due to the reliability of detection and classification of potential threats.
A single radar unit and PTZ camera combination can provide a wider field of view for detection and replace multiple cameras using video analytics. On average, one radar/PTZ installation can replace as many as 10 fixed cameras. This can translate to significant cost savings when considering the infrastructure requirements of large perimeter camera deployments — cameras, poles, cabling and communications and power infrastructure. This is in addition to high installation costs and complexity, such as trenching and specialized equipment required to mount cameras on tall poles, such as man-lifts or other heavy machinery.
For end users, fewer cameras also mean fewer bandwidth costs and equipment maintenance expenses over the lifetime of the system. These costs can be particularly onerous for organizations with multiple locations, some of which are in remote areas.
Radar Detection Reliability Reduces Truck Rolls
Traditional video analytics are more susceptible to adverse lighting and environmental conditions, such as shadows, cloud movement, rain, and wind gusts, that can falsely interpret potential threats and trigger multiple false alarms. This makes calibration of the cameras and analytics difficult and can translate into an ongoing project for integrators, requiring multiple onsite visits to resolve issues. As a result, integrators and end users face higher costs, which, in turn, can negatively impact their satisfaction with the system.
Moreover, fewer pieces of hardware required for radar solutions also alleviate ongoing maintenance burdens for integrators, which often require software and firmware updates for cameras and other network infrastructure. A smaller number of hardware complement reduces replacement costs and the probability of equipment failure.
Addressing Common Challenges for Integrators
There are, however, some common challenges that integrators can face when incorporating radar into a customer’s existing perimeter solution, which can easily be overcome with training and consultation with the radar solution vendor.
Proper deployment is key to achieving the most accurate detection results. Radar deployment has a somewhat different logic than other perimeter technologies such as camera deployments or fencing installations. In addition to line-of-site, the radar devices also require careful positioning. This challenge can be resolved by providing proper training to integrators in advance, performing an initial site survey, and using site-design tools while consulting with the radar experts to validate the deployment.
Radars also need to be integrated into the customer’s existing security system and preferred security software ecosystem. Modern radar solutions that also employ PTZ cameras need to be able to easily integrate into these existing software platforms using standard solutions and offering quick support for implementing new integrations on demand or allowing the integrator to implement the integration himself based on the software’s API/SDK.
Integrators should ensure they are managing customer expectations appropriately. While radars are almost always the superior solution they are not “magic” boxes that can detect in any environment, such as through walls and heavy fauna, and provide absolutely zero false alarms in all conditions. Both the customer and the integrator must undergo basic training on radar technology to understand its advantages and where it is suitable for efficient and effective deployment.