Adding security from the outside in

It has been more than two years since the events of Sept. 11, but security continues to dominate the mindset of the Federal government. The 2005 federal budget, if passed, calls for a 10 percent hike in Homeland Security spending, and an additional 7 percent in defense spending. As it stands, the White House proposal gives security a high priority and awards $40.2 billion for Homeland Security Department defense directives in the future.

While many in the security industry argue that Homeland Security measures have not been the windfall they expected, these endeavors have raised the awareness of end-users of all the different methods available to protect their facilities.

Remember that most innovation in security starts from government directives and in particular, the military. That was the case with early microwave and infrared development, as well as other technologies. Now, biometrics and fingerprint identification are becoming mainstream, thanks to the U.S. government mandate for some form of this type of access control for persons entering the United States with a visa.

There are a number of resources available on Homeland Security Defense initiatives for those interested in this growing market, including: www.whitehouse.gov/homeland; www.homelanddefense.org; www.aviationnow.com; www.siaonline.org; www.gsa.gov; www.fedbizopps.gov; www.tswg.gov; www.homelandsecuritypolicy.org. Even if you’re not going after government customers, “briefing” yourself on their activities is an excellent way to get new design and specification ideas, especially for protecting outdoor areas and the perimeter of any facility.

Protecting critical infrastructures is not only for Homeland Security. In fact, it is the basis of any practical security plan. Outdoor and perimeter security is the first line of defense in any good security program, and even more so for certain facilities since terrorism invaded America.

Biometrics such as fingerprint and facial recognition systems have dropped in price, as have an array of other security electronics, making them more affordable and feasible to deploy.

For those facilities in harsh and unforgiving environments, perimeter security is renewed and rejuvenated, as manufacturers refine products in an effort to provide technologies that eliminate false alarms, a major stumbling block of outdoor protection in years past and the strongest objection to their use by many end-users.

Outdoor and perimeter security now takes on a layered and integrated approach to boost effectiveness, combining traditional sensing technologies with CCTV, card access and much more. Integration is a given.

Innovative Security Solutions Inc., West Palm Beach, Fla., prides itself on working with the federal government on integrated systems installations involving not only alarms, but some non-traditional products as well, according to Steve Pasco, sales and marketing manager. “We integrate everything, depending on the customer’s facility. We even integrate nontraditional security to meet their needs. We recently developed several products to simplify the integration of ADA-compliant doors with fire systems,” he said.

New applications have evolved, and many manufacturers have responded with sensors designed for harsh environments or with more intuitive responses. End-users want to keep people out of their protected premises, and that means stopping them before they even reach the perimeter.

Technology has done wonders for outdoor CCTV, particularly in the area of cameras. Many of today’s cameras feature extreme low-light sensitivity and infrared technologies that allow monitoring in environments that were once considered extremely difficult or nearly impossible. Two major applications for CCTV are perimeter intrusion surveillance and premises monitoring. An example of the latter is the abduction of a teen walking home from school past a local business. Within two days, the man captured on digital video was apprehended.

Premises monitoring can include parking lots or grounds where you want to observe movement patterns or activity such as theft and vandalism. In addition, access points and gates, buildings and warehouses and other areas are considerations for perimeter security.

CCTV keeps stretching the boundaries of security, and this will continue as facilities look to protect multiple sites and remote locations. George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens in Virginia is in a pilot program to deploy behavior-recognition software and intelligent video surveillance solutions in a partnership program sponsored by Cernium Inc., St. Louis, Mo., and integrator ISR Solutions, Chantilly, Va. The Perceptrak product analyzes live video feeds in real time and detects suspicious or unusual behavior to alert security staff. “The Mount Vernon estate stretches over more than 500 acres located on the banks of the Potomac River,” said Frank Duley, director of security for Mount Vernon. “This type of system will enhance the ability of our staff to effectively monitor video surveillance throughout the estate.”

Protecting critical infrastructures and outdoor and perimeter premises is part of an integrated approach to security. New technologies and applications will continue to emerge as Homeland Security and a general need for more intensive and specialized applications heighten. EC

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or domara@earthlink.net