Critical Infrastructure: Perimeter Protection

Stay Informed

Your security strategy can have many 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.
Not knowing what’s going on is, to put it mildly, discomforting. Yet, knowing that something has happened, but not sure exactly what that might be, can be just as frustrating.

Consider being onsite focused in one area while an event is occurring at another. Network video surveillance offers versatile layered perimeter protection that allows you to find out what’s going on around and within your critical infrastructure in real-time, enabling resourceful and cost-effective protection. You can even design your system to be proactive and automatically respond to the situation for you and deter unwanted activity.

Traditional Measures for Perimeter Protection

Public and private entities invest in various perimeter protection measures to safeguard against trespassing, theft, and vandalism. 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

Network video solutions with analytics at the edge make it possible to build an intelligent and reliable surveillance system dedicated to protecting the perimeters of all kinds of critical infrastructure. 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 the 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 predetermined criteria, such as size or speed.

Detect – Verify – Act: How it Works

The main objective of 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 – Thermal Network Cameras

Modern thermal network cameras are very sensitive and accurate. In addition to thermal cameras being used within critical infrastructure for uses like monitoring gas levels, detecting corrosion or gas leaks, and overall temperature fluctuations, they are vital for the first layer of defense in protecting any critical assets. They are unrivaled when it comes to detection, making them an ideal first line of defense. Challenging environmental conditions such as looking into the sunlight, light fog, or smoke is difficult for visible cameras. Thermal cameras don’t use reflected light for imaging and therefore are not affected by the 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 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 and Proactive Response

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. There are several other video and audio analytics that add sophistication and support to video systems.

Notifications let you know that something is happening. It takes a person a certain amount of time to verify and respond. What if we could automate this to become more proactive? Imagine there is movement detected in a restricted area after hours. You get a notification, and as it is pulled up, you see an intruder running away because that notification triggered a spotlight and an audio recording from a network horn speaker. Instead of dealing with this perpetrator who is farther into your facility, you deter them quickly and seamlessly with a connected network solution.

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, by checking video streams, it is easy to distinguish between false alarms and real intrusions requiring immediate action. The versatility of IP-based security solutions, including the right combination of network cameras, speakers, 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.