First Line Of Defense

By Deborah L. O’Mara | Oct 15, 2016




The outdoor or perimeter physical security-detection market is strong and on the upswing. With continued emphasis on protecting critical infrastructure, utilities, water treatment plants and other potential targets, there is tangible opportunity for integrated systems contractors to provide security products and technologies.

The global perimeter security market is expected to grow from $14 million in 2015 to more than $20 million by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 7.6 percent, according to India-based market research firm MarketsandMarkets. It forecasts North America will be the largest market, based on spending and adoption of perimeter security solutions. In addition, the study points to growing demand for contractors to provide maintenance and support services to end-users in an effort to maximize their currently deployed infrastructure protection and detection.

The business case for outdoor perimeter protection is undeniable, especially for the Department of Homeland Security’s critical infrastructure. A perfect example is the $15.4 million loss caused by vandals to Pacific Gas and Electric’s Metcalf power substation in San Jose, Calif. In April 2013, attackers damaged 17 transformers and six circuit breakers and cut half a dozen AT&T fiber optic communication lines in an underground vault.

Outdoor protection and detection remains the first line of defense for security. The goal is to create layers of technology around a facility’s perimeter. It focuses on establishing physical barriers to entry and making it tougher for unauthorized or compromised entry and is also referred to as “physical hardening.” There are many different methods and possible deployments that fortify the perimeter while creating alerts and proactive notification of potential break-ins before a loss occurs.

Fences, gates, high-security obstructions, bollards and motion detectors are customary ways to establish these barriers. Exterior lighting and motion-sensing illumination are also common tactics. Outdoor motion detectors and optical (photoelectric) beams remain mainstay methods to protect the exterior, especially those across a vast landscape. Other options include active infrared and laser-detection technology. Adoption of video surveillance, access control and biometrics is increasing. 

What is on the horizon? Possibly robotics and drones as we advance into a new wave of protection technologies. (For more on drones, turn to page 26.) Overall, however, the trend is not a single, specific type of detection. Rather, integrated systems that use a variety of sensing technologies to strengthen layers of protection are pervading.

Consider the environment

According to Tom Mechler, applications design manager for Bosch Security Systems, Fairport, N.Y., outdoor motion sensors are engineered specifically for unstable environments subject to wind, rain and other disturbances. Effective outdoor detectors are purpose-built for the exterior, robust, able to withstand temperature extremes and highly stable to prevent false alarms.

“Sophisticated algorithms in motion detectors have been designed to circumvent these types of disturbances,” Mechler said. “For example, microwave detectors ignore disturbances in their field of view that move but don’t travel, such as trees, leaves and branches.”

He added that wireless outdoor detection has evolved with greater range and reliability.

Mechler said camera surveillance is increasingly part of the equation, especially when integrated with motion detectors and intrusion panels, so alerts are seamlessly processed and transmitted to the central monitoring point for interpretation.

“We’ve seen vast improvements in detection algorithms and video content analysis,” he said. “Cameras can be programmed to avoid phenomenon and alarms within a certain window of time or create virtual trip lines to alert if that line is compromised or crossed. And now, there are new ways of getting information and data to the central monitoring point to verify an alarm before dispatching authorities, such as a snapshot of the event or occurrence immediately preceding the alarm.”

Video components, such as network switches, are getting high marks for integration and the ability to address rugged outdoor environments.

When dealing with a harsh environment, contractors need to select equipment prepared to handle extremes, said Tracey Lingle, network product manager, BCDVideo, Northbrook, Ill. The system must be designed to deal with such issues as high and low temperatures to poor air quality (primarily dust). Rugged network switches must withstand the elements to protect the network from downtime, which would result in loss and network instability.

“These products have changed over the years, offering greater bandwidth [gigabit switching] and more optical uplink ports,” Lingle said. “Also, as the need for [power over ethernet plus] has grown, these switches have increased the amount of power the switches can handle.”

Lingle added that the square footage for outdoor detection has grown, requiring a greater number of camera deployments. 

“An increase in camera quantity creates the need for effective backhaul devices,” Lingle said. “These items need to be connected together, increasing demand for larger network-port counts on industrial switches. For the security market, all areas in outdoor detection have seen an increase—from retail parking lots to outdoor storage for manufacturing to municipalities monitoring sensitive infrastructure in remote areas.”

Traditional and new methods to protect the outdoor and perimeter of customer sites, coupled with an increase in integrated solutions, now yield substantial data for more effective perimeter physical security specifications.

About The Author

O’MARA writes about security, life safety and systems integration and is managing director of DLO Communications. She can be reached at [email protected] or 773.414.3573.

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