While every facility can benefit from it, perimeter security often is an afterthought. Since Sept. 11, heightened awareness has focused attention on border protection, and some forms of perimeter detection and protection have evolved into technology-based -solutions.

Turnstiles take on technology

While old-fashioned turnstiles have maintained effectiveness, technology has improved them.

“In general, when it comes to perimeter security, full-height turnstiles are used for a few basic reasons. But there is a shift in the technologies used in conjunction with them,” said Jonathan D. Watson, director of international sales, Alvarado Manufacturing Co., Chino, Calif., which produces turnstiles.

Watson explained that their solid, full-height structure creates a barrier that cannot be passed through by unauthorized personnel.

“A proper, full-height turnstile will only allow one passage per activation, versus a gate or door, which does not have control once it is opened, and multiple people can come through. The common industry term for this is tailgating,” Watson said.

Also, a full-height turnstile allows access only in the authorized direction. For instance, if a patron activates it for entry, it will not allow unauthorized exits. A gate, in comparison, has no way of distinguishing and separating entries and exits.

According to Watson, many turnstile systems now are designed to be integrated with other security measures. Some changes include using proximity readers, which have emerged as a standard technological upgrade. With proximity readers, cards do not need to be manually swiped but can be simply passed over the reader. Watson noted these have become the accepted norm.

Another area poised for growth, according to Watson, is the inclusion of biometrics into perimeter security. Biometrics includes technologies such as fingerprint readers, iris scanners and facial recognition. Though more costly than traditional access systems, these provide an extra layer of protection in terms of verification and authentication.

Architects and designers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable in their functionality and importance, which is good news for those who promote and advocate perimeter detection systems.

“They are more aware and are now incorporating them into their plans,” Watson said.

An extra set of eyes

Deepam Mishra, vice president of marketing, SightLogix, Princeton, N.J., sees the perimeter security market moving along the same lines as most other systems—toward IP convergence. He explained that, in the past, there used to be separate network cabling for CCTV, power and more. As these become increasingly digital in nature, Internet protocol (IP) convergence is surging ahead in this market.

The other key area in terms of technology evolution is the inclusion of automation with perimeter security.

“We think this is the leading edge,” Mishra said. “In the past, perimeter security was used more as a deterrent, to keep people out. As times and theories have changed, many have now started using perimeter security for proactive security measures as well. It is not enough anymore to simply say we have cameras.”

Video surveillance remains among the most-used solutions. However, on the back end, videos need to be monitored and analyzed by humans, which is labor-intensive.

According to Mishra, companies such as SightLogix offer automation solutions to be used in conjunction with existing perimeter security. Mishra explained that automated surveillance solves a major problem.

In large outdoor areas where multiple cameras feed images to a host of monitors, the monitors need to be physically watched. With the average human attention span being only around 20 minutes, that leaves a lot of room for error.

“In a typical room with two to three guards, there is no way they can watch all of the video screens on the wall in front of them,” Mishra said.

The task is facilitated by the inclusion of automation software. The software takes over where human abilities lack. The system continually monitors all live feeds and instantly alerts security personnel to pay attention to the camera with a possible disturbance. Mishra refers to this as “being able to shine a spotlight on a needle in a haystack.”

Mishra also sees ample opportunity for automation to become more mainstream as automation detection systems for perimeter security are becoming more reliable and affordable.

While perimeter security might not be considered technologically advanced, it remains the first line of defense in any type of facility detection, especially with integrated functions.

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.