Perimeter Protection in the Great Outdoors

Get the inside scoop on the current state of available perimeter protection technology with pros/cons, application ideas and design tips.

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.

RELATED: Savoring the Many Flavors of Intrusion Detection

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.

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