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Perimeter Protection in the Great Outdoors

 ·Perimeters of buildings and grounds can vary significantly, from suburban areas with open space surrounded only by trees and landscaping to industrial sites with fenced-in facilities or to urban environments bordered by sidewalks, roadways and parking lots. Technology for protecting these facilities varies as widely as the perimeters themselves, but the key to detecting and stopping intruders before they gain entry is an integrated security solution.

The technology at the heart of an integrated security solution should be able to accept alarms from various devices — such as glassbreak and beam detectors, surveillance cameras and more — and use those alarms to trigger actions that focus the attention of security personnel or the central station monitoring the facility.

Some of the latest security control panels provide this level of integration, as well as advanced programming capabilities that enhance perimeter security. These control panels enable dealers and integrators to offer customized perimeter security solutions for their customers, which helps them deliver added value and increase their competitiveness.

The first line of perimeter defense is often photoelectric beam detectors installed to either surround the entire facility or to cover entry points, such as a gate that is closed and locked during off hours. These detectors serve as an early warning system, activating an alarm when an intruder passes within the direct line of sight between the transmitter and receiver, breaking the invisible infrared beam.

More sophisticated beam detectors will be able to discriminate environmental disturbances from actual intruders by monitoring the gradual loss of a signal due to dust, fog, rain or snow. Detectors with multiple beams can be configured to cause an alarm when all beams are blocked or when only some of the beams are blocked. This configuration helps in detecting smaller objects and eliminates the possibility of someone crawling through the beam.

Let’s delve deeper into some additional technology applications that are helping installing security contractors meet the security — and oftentimes the budgetary — needs of end-user clients.

Leveraging Integrated Cameras, Analytics

Video surveillance cameras are another key component of a perimeter protection system, and with an integrated system, security control panel events, such as an alarm triggered by a beam detector, can trigger camera actions. This includes sending video snapshots via E-mail from fixed cameras focused on the area or triggering a pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) camera to focus on the relevant area to verify the alarm and gain situational awareness.

Some control panels can perform this level of integration with no third-party server required; the control panel treats the camera as an integrated device and provides commands directly via a local area network. This eliminates the need for a third-party server, which can be a point of failure, and reduces costs for the dealer.

In addition to panel events triggering camera actions, cameras can activate points on the control panel through video motion detection or video analytics. Some IP video surveillance cameras are equipped with analytics capabilities embedded in a processor dedicated for analytics. Referred to as edge analytics, there is no central server or other additional hardware required to process the video, as the IP cameras perform this action.

Video analytics can be a major asset, as it analyzes real-time images continuously to detect suspicious events. It ensures a constant eye on the scene and instantly alerts to conditions that require action. This adds an extra layer of protection by providing alerts to potential security risks before they occur or alerting to perimeter breaches as they happen.

Video analytics can be configured to detect a number of behaviors that would indicate a person is about to or attempting to cross a perimeter. Following are a few of the conditions that video analytics can be programmed to alert on.

LINE CROSSING: Alert operators if a person crosses a perimeter, whether it’s a fence or an invisible line at the edge of an unfenced campus environment; analytics can detect a person or object crossing over an invisible line in the scene.

ILLEGAL PARKING: Alert operators if a car is parked or idling in an area where it should not be, such as in front of a perimeter fence, near a loading dock door or in another restricted zone. This could indicate a person may attempt to gain access to the building or grounds. Analytics can be configured to detect idle objects or objects left behind to alert in this type of situation.

LOITERING: Notify if a person enters an area and does not leave after a specified time, while ignoring those that innocently pass through the scene. When programmed for loitering, analytics can alert security personnel that someone may be looking for an opportunity to breach the perimeter. With advanced warning, security personnel can send a patrol to the area before the person actually enters the property.

SPEEDING: Notify on vehicles speeding as they approach a perimeter barrier or exterior guard booth, indicating an intention to breach the perimeter with force. Analytics can filter for speed and size. This enables the system to ignore all movement below a certain speed, yet alert the operator when the movement is faster and by an object that is at least the size of a small car.

COLOR MATCHING: Alert operators to the presence of an object that is a particular color, such as a red vehicle that is parked illegally or a person wearing a yellow jacket that enters a defined outdoor area. This can be used to notify personnel to the presence of a known security concern.

It is possible to use these individually or combined to address more complex scenarios. These are just some of the examples of how video analytics can assist with perimeter protection. And, with an integrated system, the analytic alert can immediately fault the corresponding point on the control panel until the alert clears. This prompts the control panel to communicate the alarm to the central station or to send video snapshots in an event notification via E-mail or text message to one or multiple recipients. End users can receive E-mail alerts on their smartphones, including snapshots, showing events around the perimeter. And, by including the camera’s DNS or IP address in the notification, the user can also connect directly to the relevant camera simply by clicking on a link in the notification.

By delivering meaningful information direct to users, they gain the ability to easily monitor security events remotely without involving the central station. It also enables them to make more informed decisions about whether the central monitoring station should dispatch police to the location to prevent an intruder from attempting to enter the building itself.

Control Panels Help Keep Intruders at Bay

Securing the perimeter of the grounds is the first line of defense, but it is also important to consider technology that assists in preventing unauthorized entry to the building itself.

Glassbreak detectors are an effective means of detecting an intruder attempting to gain entry by breaking through a window or glass door. Using sound analysis technology, these detectors listen for the frequencies associated with breaking glass and issue an alarm if the signal produces the specific frequency, signature and timing relationship. Glassbreak detectors should always be used in conjunction with motion sensors to fully protect the building.

Outside of the traditional use of a building’s intrusion detection system, consider areas that need to be opened for authorized employee use, but restricted to others. Security control panels with integrated access control come into play here, allowing those authorized employees to gain entrance. But, how do you prevent mistakes made by employees who may forget to rearm a system when leaving, or prop, or inadvertently, leave a door open?

Modern security control panels will offer advanced programming capabilities that either prevent these situations or that alert security personnel or the central monitoring station when they happen. For example, a panel could be programmed to automatically rearm an area after a specified amount of time. This is ideal for areas that may be unoccupied for an extended period, such as a service shed or other remote station on the facility grounds. This ensures these areas are never left unsecured for a long period.

In addition, by delaying the reaction of a point for a specified time — from one minute up to an hour depending on the user’s requirement — disarmed points can also be monitored for abnormal conditions. This can be used for emergency doors to ensure they haven’t been propped open or for loading dock doors or roof hatches inadvertently left open to provide an enhanced level of building perimeter security. Technicians can program the system to annunciate locally, or send an alert to the user via text message and delay the supervisory report. This can serve to remind the user to close the door or hatch before a report is sent to the central monitoring station.

Apps for remote control and monitoring of panel functionality offer another opportunity to enhance perimeter security. Within the same app used to arm or disarm a system or area or control doors, users can also view live video from IP cameras integrated with the system. All of this can be done using a smartphone or tablet over the Internet, a local wireless network or over cellular, depending on the control panel model.

Combine these latest security technologies with services that enable the central monitoring station to intervene at the time of an impending perimeter breach or one in progress and you have a powerful deterrent that may prevent possible intrusions. Cloud-based services are available that enable the operator at the central monitoring station to intervene with audio. Once a video or intrusion alarm is transmitted to the central monitoring station and verified through video images, the operator can take immediate action with audio intervention using a nearby camera that is equipped with a loudspeaker. If intruders are warned that they are on camera and that the local authorities have been contacted, they may likely flee the area. This added layer of security is an effective means for preventing damage and theft.

All of the capabilities described here can be implemented with security control panels, IP cameras and cloud-based services that are available today. With this type of integrated security solution, dealers and integrators are better equipped to provide customized solutions for securing the perimeters of facilities and grounds with a range of requirements and environmental conditions.

By Tom Mechler and Sean Murphy. ·