Critical Infrastructure: Perimeter Protection

Stay Informed

Your security site plan can have a lot of moving parts. For critical infrastructure sites (i.e., power plants – nuclear, gas, electrical or solar, petroleum refineries, data centers, etc.), it’s important to know what’s happening inside and outside, regardless if you’re onsite or not. Not knowing what’s going on is, to put it mildly, discomforting. Knowing something has happened without being sure exactly what that might be can be just as frustrating.

Consider the concern for worrisome activities happening right under your nose while you’re onsite, but focused in a different area. Network video surveillance offers versatile, layered perimeter protection that gives you real-time visibility into what’s happening within your critical infrastructure, enabling resourceful, cost-effective protection.  

Traditional Measures for Perimeter Protection

To safeguard against trespassing, theft and vandalism, governments, public and private utilities and other owners of critical infrastructure invest in various perimeter protection measures. Traditionally, these measures relied on technologies such as short-distance radar, lasers, ground sensors, motion sensors or motion-sensitive fence wires. They all perform well, and can capably detect intrusions under many circumstances. In recent years, the development of advanced algorithms has helped in filtering false alarms from many of these devices, but a consistent, reliable means to verify true and false alarms is still needed.  

Network Video for a Clear Picture and Strong Decision Support

With network video cameras it’s possible to build an intelligent and reliable surveillance system dedicated to protecting the perimeters of all kinds of critical infrastructure with analytics at the edge. A vast range of products make such IP-based systems versatile and high-performing, especially in poorly lit environments, or in varying and/or demanding weather conditions. Video analytics at the edge (or perimeter) minimizes video processing on the back end, which simplifies balancing the entire system from the edge to the data center. Edge analytics also enables easier and faster scaling to accommodate more points of video capture and analysis. With the functionality to add smart analytics directly to the camera, your system can serve and protect you and your assets with or without you onsite.

Clear and crisp images and high-performing smart analytics facilitate detection and identification of objects, people and incidents making it easier to separate true alarms from false alarms that don’t require a response. This provides better ROI than older systems as an individual tasked with traveling to the site to make this determination is no longer required. Again, these systems provide high-quality images, enabling advanced features such as video motion detection, virtual fence or cross-line detection. Moreover, a network camera can be configured to sustain an alarm trigger outside of the fence offering an earlier detection. As an example, you can pair the cameras with object filtration which reduces the number of false alarms by only reacting to objects that fulfill certain, predetermined criteria, such as size, speed, etc.

Detect – Verify – Act: How it Works

The main objective for critical infrastructure perimeter protection is to detect a threat or an intrusion at the earliest possible stage. However, areas where critical infrastructure exists can pose a significant challenge for security managers. The sheer size of these campuses can be a problem. Variable lighting conditions can also present a problem especially at night when shadows and blind spots can cause significant issues.

1. Detect: First Line of Defense

Modern thermal network cameras are very sensitive and accurate. They are unrivaled when it comes to detection, making them an ideal first line of defense. Certain environmental conditions such as direct sunlight, light fog or smoke, create visibility challenges for cameras. Since thermal cameras don’t use reflected light for imaging, they are not affected by those challenging environments. Once a suspicious event has been detected, the thermal camera can be configured so that it automatically directs a PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) camera to the place the incident occurred. Working in parallel, these two camera types form an unbeatable combination.

2. Verify: On Top With PTZ Domes and Fixed Cameras

After a detection, verification must follow before decisions on further actions can be made. PTZ cameras are adaptable and enable an operator to pan, tilt and zoom the camera remotely to quickly analyze the situation. State-of-the-art network cameras deliver sharp images with very high resolution, enabling facial identification or even license plate recognition over long distances. Special low-light technology reduces noise and maintains colors even in very dark conditions, greatly enhancing the user’s ability to recognize and identify people, vehicles and incidents.

3. Act: Automatic Notification

When an alarm is triggered, a real-time notification is automatically sent by e-mail. Using a remote viewing app, the receiver can then see a live stream from the camera or a recording of the triggering event. Based on this information, it is easy to decide on the appropriate course of action.

Safeguard Your Facility and Your Wallet

Network camera surveillance for critical infrastructure perimeter protection enables you not only to detect a possible intruder at the earliest stage possible, but to verify the extent and severity of a breach. These security systems can be configured to provide essential information to adopt an appropriate response based on feedback from the system itself.

Furthermore, checking video streams makes it easy to distinguish between false alarms and real intrusions which require immediate action. The versatility of IP-based security solutions, including the right combination of network cameras, applications, radar, video analytics software and other add-ons, creates a system that is flexible, scalable and cost effective.

See how critical infrastructure and perimeter protection solutions by Axis Communications can optimize your facility.


The opinions expressed in this piece are solely Axis’. They do not necessarily represent WESCO’s views.