Properly Protect Your Plant's Perimeter

Advances in security technology ease the task and make good business sense.

By Ryan Loughin, ADT Advanced Integration

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Recent advances in location-sensing technology have allowed these detection systems to pinpoint activity anywhere within 15 feet — a dramatic improvement from where the technology was just three to four years ago. Before location-based systems, fiber detection involved setting up zones ranging from one hundred to several thousand feet, which, if designed in conjunction with assessment cameras, created a delay in homing in on intruders. Location-based systems today substantially increase accuracy and prove extremely cost-effective because they eliminate the need for manual intervention to pinpoint an intrusion event.

In the past year, fiber-based fence technology has gained a redundancy feature — if an intruder were to cut through the fiber, the self-healing ring technology would remain fully operational. Today's "smart" fence, boasting redundancy and location-sensing technology, is in many cases the foundation for continuous perimeter protection.

Thermal imaging/infrared (IR). Once used almost exclusively by the government and military, thermal imaging solutions have become increasingly popular in recent years for commercial and industrial applications. In the past decade, the upfront cost of IR technology has decreased by two-thirds for some products, in part because of reduced amounts of germanium required in the lenses of thermal imaging cameras. As technology continues to evolve and the focal plane (the equivalent of a CCD imager in a normal camera) gets smaller, so does the lens, driving down the amount of germanium used and creating a more affordable and attractive solution.

Even in the most adverse conditions, thermal imaging can produce clear images based on heat radiation, which is almost impossible to mask (Figure 2). The technology consumes little power, works efficiently during both day and night, and only demands limited upkeep. This can translate into reduced maintenance and headcount costs.

Because they can cover more ground, thermal imaging cameras require less infrastructure investment than traditional surveillance cameras. They are easily mounted on poles, walls or other existing structures. They don't need perimeter lighting, which tends to be very expensive.

A large number of perimeter solutions installed within the last three to four years include thermal imaging. It's effective in areas with no other options and is especially useful for waterfront facilities where a light source typically is unavailable.

Analytics software. A conventional video surveillance system in many ways is the fundamental building block of any effective security system. Video is a strong deterrent to theft and fraud. Digital recording can document events and provide a level of organizational awareness and control that was unimaginable previously. The integration of video analytics software enhances security levels and capability. Layering analytics software onto video surveillance improves operations.

Analytics software can detect unauthorized intrusion and unusual behavior across a perimeter while eliminating external environmental factors. It filters data captured by video surveillance systems and can differentiate between emergencies and non-emergencies with more accuracy than human operators, who are prone to diminishing concentration levels and fatigue when continuously viewing video monitors. Coupling analytics software with video cameras helps rule out false positives from wildlife or other environmental factors.

Global-positioning-system capabilities can pinpoint the exact location of an incursion, enabling quick deployment of security personnel. Detecting human-shaped figures at greater distances allows more time for security to mobilize and provides a more-targeted search range. For CFATS compliance, the software can monitor restricted areas, deter internal theft and address vulnerability risks. Analytics software also helps lower overhead because it requires a minimum headcount to manage the system and cuts down on the need to review eventless footage.

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