EXCLUSIVE: Perimeter security without compromise


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Brad Martin, Director of Product Management, Senstar, describes how next-generation sensing technologies along the perimeter provide the highest level of detection.

Establishing a secure perimeter is the first step in keeping critical sites and infrastructure safe. This typically involves installing passive deterrence systems such as security fences and vehicle control mechanisms along the outer perimeter in order to control egress points and provide a clear demarcation point between secure/unsecure areas.

Despite being a substantial investment, the simple presence of fences and other physical barriers do not guarantee a site’s security. More often than not, physical barriers are at best a minor deterrent – a fence or gate can be bypassed in seconds and certainly will not stop a determined intruder.

Differing technology capabilities

To augment physical barriers, intrusion detection technologies such as fence sensors, video analytics, radar, lidar and volumetric sensors can be deployed for additional protection. The strengths and capabilities of these different technologies may differ, but their key function remains the same – early detection at the perimeter, while the intruder is still outside the secure area, provides security staff with the critical additional time needed to better assess and respond to potential threats.

For maximum benefit, the sensors should be tightly integrated with the video surveillance system, so that the intrusion nature and precise location can be used to raise alarms and display specific video streams for security personnel. The resulting system notifies security personnel of the threat and streamlines the assessment and response process. In addition, alarms from perimeter sensors can be used to trigger the video surveillance system to switch to higher quality video settings, so that better evidence for investigatory purposes can be collected.

Sensing technology at the perimeter also provides the necessary localized intelligence to proactively address potential threats, namely via the automatic engaging of active deterrence systems. Dynamic security lighting, activated, intensified or strobed at the intrusion location, is one effective response, while direct engagement via loudspeaker or two-way intercom is another. For critical infrastructure sites like electrical substations or petrochemical facilities, intrusion alarms can also be used to trigger additional domain-specific safety protocols in order to avoid potential harm or equipment damage.  

The capabilities of new security sensing technologies are very impressive. For example, fiber optic fence sensors can detect and locate the smallest of vibrations over tens of kilometers, while video analytics, enhanced with modern AI techniques like deep-learning, can track and classify objects and people with impressive accuracy. However, even the latest technology can still generate false or nuisance alarms under specific conditions, often exposing inherent limitations with the technology itself.

Thus, nuisance alarm rates justifiably remain a key concern in the security industry: they can become a distraction for monitoring personnel, leading to complacency; they can impose increased incident response costs, especially for remotely located sites; they can encourage technicians to make equipment adjustments that could lower the probability of detection under some conditions; and most unfortunately, they could generate a distrust of the security system in general.

Defeat nuisance alarms once and for all

Senstar, leveraging its extensive experience designing innovative solutions for security applications, has developed new technology that can finally defeat nuisance alarms once and for all, while still maintaining the highest probabilities of detection: a revolutionary new Sensor Fusion Engine.

The Sensor Fusion Engine, included as part of the Senstar Symphony Common Operating Platform, is a breakthrough technology that synthesizes data from separate systems to generate actionable information. More than just a simple Boolean logic integration, the Sensor Fusion Engine accesses low level data from individual sensors and analytics to intelligently characterize potential risks. Data synthesis enables the system to achieve levels of performance that far exceed those of the individual sensors.

For security applications, sensor fusion has a direct, practical benefit: the ability to maximize the strengths of individual sensor technologies while avoiding their inherent shortcomings. When signal response data from fence sensors is synthesized with video analytic data, nuisance alarms generated by wind, debris, rain, or hail hitting the fence are virtually eliminated while still maintaining the highest probability of detection.

The benefits are not limited to just fence sensors, however. Sensor fusion also defeats false alarms created by video analytic based systems. Video analytics can trigger nuisance alarms or miss a detection for a variety of reasons, including insects on the camera, water movement, flashlights or vehicle headlines, reflections from metal objects and water, obscured video streams due to poor weather conditions and temporary blocking of objects in the camera’s line-of-sight.

Innovative technology designed for the real world

To see how sensor fusion can improve the security of a site while eliminating nuisance alarms in a real-world setting, let’s look at an actual site that deployed sensor fusion:

  • A critical infrastructure site with 24/7 video surveillance
  • Protected by a standard eight-foot security chain link fence with barbed wire topper
  • Directly adjacent a large body of water
  • Frequently subjected to high winds, storms, fog, freezing rain and snow
  • Legal public access to adjacent waterway and immediate shoreline

The organization had successfully deployed fence sensors at its other locations to detect intrusions but this site, directly exposed to the seafront elements, had the potential to generate nuisance alarms during extreme weather conditions. In addition, the site’s close proximity to the shoreline created difficulties for video analytic-based solutions – the frequent rough seas, legal boat traffic and a limited shoreline for defining ground-based virtual alarm zones or tripwires, meant that the probability of detecting intruders was not guaranteed through solely video analytic based solutions.

To meet these challenging requirements, Senstar proposed its new Sensor Fusion Engine, which was able to leverage the facility’s existing fence and video surveillance infrastructure and result in a system that could detect sophisticated intrusion attacks while still avoiding the generation of nuisance alarms. The end result: the system only generates alarms when legitimate intrusions occur, even during extreme weather conditions or nearby boating activity. For the customer, this means they can make better use of their security personnel and have a strong, justified confidence in their system and processes.

Sensor fusion

The availability of systems supporting true sensor fusion addresses two of the top concerns for perimeter security: reducing the nuisance alarm rate while maintaining or even increasing the probability of detection. This is a feat simply not achievable by vendors specializing in one specific technology – it requires a holistic approach, based on a common operating platform, that incorporates advanced processing and AI analysis on low-level sensor data, before synthesizing it into actionable information.

But at the end of the day, from a security professional perspective, what matters is the results: a system that benefits from the strengths of its individual sensing technologies while avoiding their individual limitations.  

For more information, visit: senstar.com

This article was originally published in the bumper September edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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