Critical infrastructure facilities that must secure large areas with extended outer boundary and numerous entry points, present a particularly difficult challenge when it comes to perimeter protection. As such, true end-to-end perimeter protection calls for the utilization of a sophisticated, multi-layered solution that is capable of defending against anticipated threats.

Integrated systems that incorporate thermal imaging, visible cameras, radar and strong command and control software are crucial for covering the various potential areas of attacks. Let’s look at these technologies and the five key functions they enable to achieve an end-to-end solution that provides intrusion detection, assessment and defense for the perimeter.

1. Threat Recognition

The first step in effectively defending against a threat is recognizing that it’s there. By combining state-of-the-art intrusion detection technologies, facilities can arm themselves with a head start against possible intruders. An exceptionally important aspect of effective perimeter protection is the ability to conduct 24-hour surveillance, regardless of weather conditions, environmental settings, or time of day. Visible cameras do not perform as well in low light scenarios and inclement weather conditions. However, thermal imaging cameras can provide constant protection against potential intruders, regardless of visual limitations, light source or many environmental factors. In fact, facilities such as power stations located near bodies of water can use thermal cameras to create what is known as a “thermal virtual fence” in areas where they are unable to utilize the protection of a physical fence or wall.

Deterring suspicious activity can be achieved through real-time two-way audio, a simple but powerful tool

Critical infrastructure applications require not only continuous video surveillance and monitoring, but also a solution that yields highly reliable intrusion detection, with fewer false alarms. This need makes advanced video analytics a must for any adequate surveillance system. Features like dynamic event detection and simplified data presentation are game changing in supporting accurate intrusion analysis and facilitating a proactive response.

Advanced analytics will provide multiple automated alarm notification options, including email, edge image storage, digital outputs or video management software (VMS) alarms. Incorporating high quality, unique and adaptive analytics can virtually eliminate false alarms, allowing security personnel to respond more efficiently and effectively, while also lowering overall cost for the end user.

While surveillance technologies such as radar, thermal imaging and visible cameras, or video analytics work well on their own, utilizing all of these options together provides an advanced perimeter detection system. For example, ground surveillance radar can detect possible threats beyond the fence line as they approach and send a signal to pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, triggering them to slew to a specific location. From there, embedded analytics and visible cameras can further identify objects, notify authorized staff, and collect additional evidence through facial recognition or high-quality photos.

2. Automatic Response Systems

Once an intrusion attempt is discovered, it is important to act fast. Organizing a response system that can initiate actions based on GPS location data, such as the slewing of PTZ cameras, automated intruder tracking or activated lighting sensors, greatly increases staff’s situational awareness while easing their workload. For instance, thermal imagers deployed in conjunction with video analytics can be used to generate an initial alarm event, which can then trigger a sequence of other security equipment and notifications for personnel to eventually respond to. Having all of this in place essentially lays the entire situation out in a way that allows responders to accurately understand and evaluate a scene.

Critical infrastructure applications require continuous video surveillance and monitoring, with highly reliable intrusion detection
Power stations located near bodies of water can use thermal cameras to create a “thermal virtual fence” in areas where they are unable to utilize the protection of a physical fence or wall

3. Deterring Suspicious Activity 

After the designated auto-response mechanisms have activated and done their job, it is time for responders to acknowledge and assess the situation. From here, authorized personnel can take the next appropriate step toward defending against and delaying the threat. Deterring suspicious activity can be achieved through real-time two-way audio, a simple but powerful tool. Often, control room operators can diffuse a situation by speaking over an intercom, telling the trespasser that they are being watched and that the authorities have been notified. This tactic, known as ‘talk down’, also allows officers to view the intruder’s reaction to their commands and evaluate what they feel the best next step is. If individuals do not respond in a desired manner, it may be time to take more serious action and dispatch a patrolman to the area.

4. Delay, Defend, Dispatch And Handle

The possible danger has been identified, recognized and evaluated. Now it is time to effectively defend against current attacks and slow down both cyber and physical perpetrators’ prospective efforts. Through the use of a well-designed, open platform VMS, security monitors can manage edge devices and other complementary intrusion detection and response technologies, including acoustic sensors, video analytics, access control and radio dispatch. A robust VMS also enables operators to control functions such as video replay, geographical information systems tracking, email alerts and hand-off to law enforcement.

With the right combination of technologies, facilities can take monitoring and evidence collection to the next level

The primary purpose of the delay facet of the overall perimeter protection strategy is to stall an attempted intrusion long enough for responders to act. Access control systems play a key role in realizing this objective. When a security officer sees a non-compliant, suspicious individual on the camera feed, the officer can lock all possible exits to trap them in one area all through the VMS.

5. Intelligence: Collect Evidence And Debrief

More data and intelligence collected from an event equals more crucial evidence for crime resolution and valuable insight for protecting against future incidents. With the right combination of technologies, facilities can take monitoring and evidence collection to the next level. One innovative resource that has become available is a live streaming application that can be uploaded to smart phones and used for off-site surveillance. This app gives personnel the power to follow intruders with live video anywhere and allows operators to monitor alarm video in real-time. Geographic Information System (GIS) maps are computer systems utilized for capturing, storing, reviewing, and displaying location related data. Capable of displaying various types of data on one map, this system enables users to see, analyze, easily and efficiently.

Multi-sensor cameras, possessing both visible and thermal capabilities, provide high-contrast imaging for superb analytic detection (in any light) and High Definition video for evidence such as facial ID or license plate capture. Integrating these two, usually separated, camera types into one helps to fill any gaps that either may normally have. Still, in order to capture and store all of this valuable information and more, a robust, VMS is required. Recorded video, still images and audio clips serve as valuable evidence in the event that a trial must take place to press charges. Control room operators can use data collection tools within their VMS to safely transfer video evidence from the field to the courtroom with just a few clicks of their mouse. More advanced video management systems can go a step further and package this data with other pertinent evidence to create a comprehensive report to help ensure conviction.

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