Tech Talk: Push System Limits With Perimeter Protection

The key to any overall security system is planning and implementing several layers of security technology. A primary element is the outdoor perimeter layers. Learn about technologies and standards you’ll need for success.

This month, outdoor perimeter security is on the menu. We’ll look at techniques that can make for a world-class installation and system. This is an area in which many new products and services are making it easier than ever for today’s alarm dealer to bring quality and economy to the marketplace.

As a starting point, remember that good perimeter security is a “4D” system: Deter, Detect, Delay and Deny. Now let’s take a look at important planning, product and standards considerations associated with this critical first layer of intrusion detection and prevention.

Blend Technologies to Best Effect

The key to any overall security system is planning and implementing several layers of security technology. A primary element is the outdoor perimeter layers. To do this properly we will want a mix of physical (e.g. gates, walls, fences) and electronic (e.g. sensors such as seismic, video analytics, fence cables, photo beams).

Electronic security placement considerations should be included within the interior of an outside perimeter fence. The exterior fence will substantially reduce false alarms by keeping animals outside the perimeter.

Perimeter security may also include rapid response from security personnel. The security professional must calculate time for personnel response. This time must fall well within the intrusion time window of early perimeter detection, and before the intruder breaches the interior of the facility.

Physical security may also include perimeter barriers such as bollards to protect against vehicular assaults.

New Apps Tie Satellites to Security

What do satellite technology and perimeter security have in common? Technology that was up until recently only available to large government operations is now available to all security dealers. Let’s look at some examples.

Chino, Calif.-based Optex (, a long-time provider of perimeter security equipment, has introduced its MyOptex program. MyOptex is a dynamic new project layout application for the iPad. It allows security sales staff to drag and drop to-scale detection patterns onto a satellite image of the jobsite.

The resulting layout can then be E-mailed or printed out in a matter of minutes, along with the invoiced product and quote bases on what Optex sensors were used.

[IMAGE]12234[/IMAGE]“With an iPad and MyOptex, our sales representatives can have a full layout and sample quote ready for a dealer or integrator before walking back to the customer’s office,” says Adam McGuern, marketing manager at Optex.

SightLogix, maker of intelligent outdoor video surveillance solutions, offers advanced system features such as Geo-Registration. This function has three-dimensional capabilities to ascertain the size of all moving objects in the camera’s field of view (FOV). SightLogix’s systems also use GPS-based analytics to automatically steer pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) cameras.

Additionally, the Princeton, N.J.-based supplier’s SightSurvey program allows security planners to adjust the selection and placement of “virtual cameras” by overlaying on a Google Maps layout. This program also helps to generate an accurate inventory of perimeter equipment being proposed.

Proper Enclosures Are Elemental

One of the biggest challenges of outdoor perimeter security is dealing with the elements. The simple fact is that electronics will not work very well if exposed to water, dirt and other foreign elements. That’s why it is important for security dealers to know National Equipment Manufacturers Association (NEMA) equipment enclosure ratings.

These guidelines help ensure the correct cabinet is selected for the environment in which the security equipment is expected to perform. Additionally, extra safety concerns arise when the equipment may be operated in a hazardous or explosive environment.

NEMA was founded in 1926 and has around 460 member companies. While the organization is involved with many standards bodies, the one we will address here is NEMA Standards Publication 250-2003, “Enclosures for Electrical Equipment (1,000 Volts Maximum).” Here are the classifications:

NEMA 1 — general indoor protection where conditions are not unusually severe.

NEMA 2 — drip-tight; indoor use; designed to exclude falling moisture or dirt; particularly applicable to cooling rooms, laundries, etc. where condensation is prevalent.

NEMA 3 — weatherproof; outdoor use; designed to withstand all normal exposure to natural elements; controls mounted on pullout racks for easy access; with rain hood and weather seals.

NEMA 4 — watertight and dust-tight; intended for use indoors or outdoors to protect equipment against splashing, falling or hose-directed water, external condensation and water seepage; withstands water pressure from 1-inch hose nozzle, 65 gallons per minute, from distances of not less than 10 feet for a period of 5 minutes.

NEMA 4X – watertight, dust-tight and corrosion-resistant; meets same qualifications as NEMA 4 but with added corrosion resistance.

NEMA 5 — dust-tight with special gaskets; suitable for mills and other high-dust atmospheres. 

NEMA 6 — submersible; for operation under specified pressures and time.

NEMA 7 — for indoor Class I, Division 1 hazardous locations with gas or vapor atmospheres; National Electrical Code (NEC) class 1 (circuit breaks in air).

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Commercial Integrator + Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add to your bottom line.

A FREE subscription to the top resource for security and integration industry will prove to be invaluable.

Subscribe Today!

Get Our Newsletters