Market focus: Critical infrastructure security

A roundup of recent security applications and installations


Kutztown, Pa. Protects Vulnerable Critical Infrastructure

Protecting critical infrastructure from vandalism and sabotage is of primary importance. Public utilities such as water installations are particularly vulnerable to malicious activities - and even careless pranks - that can endanger the safety of an entire community by introducing toxic substances. Other potential acts of malevolence include severely damaging a tank or releasing water from a reservoir, causing damage to property and harm to people in the vicinity.

In Kutztown, Pa., municipal authorities take the responsibility of keeping the town's water supply safe from contamination - whether deliberate or accidental - very seriously. The borough of 15,000 residents had a series of CCTV cameras monitoring its two massive water tanks, one located near a heavily traveled walking path and the other at a remote site accessible by a 4x4 vehicle. Measuring 35 feet tall and 75 feet in diameter, the tanks hold up to one million gallons, serving the needs of residents and students at the local university.

The town was looking to improve its security system when one night, a group of individuals climbed one of the tanks, causing an alarm to be sounded. By the time municipal officials realized that the alert was authentic and a real security breach had taken place, it was too late to determine whether or not any tampering had occurred. The site was shut down for two full days in order to conduct a thorough inspection of the tank and ensure the water supply had not been compromised. The prank cost taxpayers some $9,000, spurring the upgrade.

The previous surveillance system was riddled with problems. Alerts did not always signify a genuine threat nor did they allow for immediate appropriate action to be taken. Extensive measures often had to be taken following an alarm. The water flow would be stopped; a diver sent to inspect the tank and take samples; and the tank sealed back up - a time-consuming and expensive undertaking.

Both of Kutztown's water storage tanks have recently been equipped with DVTel's ioimage wide dynamic range IP cameras with built-in self-sustained video analytics, which monitor the top hatches and service maintenance ladders - areas most vulnerable to sabotage. Performing equally effectively at night as during the day, and under extreme weather conditions, the system can be rapidly configured to detect fence-jumpers and other security breaches.

Surveillance staff at the monitoring center is instantly alerted to unauthorized vehicles and persons entering the premises, loiterers and accidental security breaches such as an employee neglecting to lock a gate. Notifications are also sent to their wireless devices and via e-mail. The system was easy to install and has proven to be a huge improvement. In addition, the performance of security guards has been enhanced while their workload alleviated.

The upgrade - which was partially funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development - continues to evolve. More cameras will be added along a nearby walking trail and the Kutztown police department is expected to become involved in the project. In addition, users may be granted rights to monitor specific cameras, as part of a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system that is already in place, as part of protecting Kutztown's critical infrastructure.

Perimeter Protection for Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative

The Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative (GVEC) recently installed SmarterFence from Smarter Security Systems at a second substation after a successful initial deployment. "We sought to establish a model for future compliance with NERC (North American Reliability Council) standards with new substation construction," says Bernie Acre, Information Services Division Manager for GVEC. "The Smarter Outdoor solutions are a key part of our physical security and compliance, as they provide us early warning of intrusions."

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