Perimeter Security: Focus on the Outside

Sept. 10, 2012
It's time for the industry to develop new standards for outdoor and perimeter security

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of SD&I magazine

There is a strong case to be made for the development of video perimeter security standards. Until now, certain aspects of perimeter security systems have lacked basic guidelines to ensure effective and measurable operation. Lacking clear standards can be an impediment to market growth, as integrators and end-users are consumed by performing their own evaluations of equipment to determine the best solutions for their applications. I am proud to chair the Security Industry Association’s (SIA) Standards' Perimeter Security Subcommittee to clarify objectives, create operational performance standards and ultimately accelerate growth of this emerging market.                                           

Effective security starts from the perimeter

Perimeter security systems are literally the first line of defense for protection of people, facilities and assets. It just makes sense that boosting the effectiveness of perimeter security ensures better security overall; any threat that is eliminated or mitigated at the perimeter no longer poses a threat inside a facility. In fact, it's safe to say the potential positive impact of perimeter security far exceeds the level of attention that has been paid to it, especially in regard to standards.

A number of automated detection technologies including coax and fiber fence sensors, microwave, seismic sensors and radar can provide some level of perimeter detection. However, intelligent video systems with advanced analytics provide substantial advantages over these alternatives. One advantage is speed, which is paramount when thwarting an intruder. Only video provides the intrinsic detail to display and record the “what and where” of an alert without need for additional verification systems. Knowing the size, location and nature of an event as it unfolds is the key to mobilizing an effective response.

With the innovation of intelligent cameras with substantially more on-board image processing, video systems are now available to accurately detect the presence of unauthorized persons over site perimeters and outdoor areas. These smart cameras are designed to filter the effects of environmental elements and provide detection over large areas, regardless of wind, weather or the movement of small animals, trees or blowing trash. When security operations receive accurate information they can mount an appropriate response to the nature of the alert. Such a system yields the necessary “security awareness” around the perimeter to meet necessary performance standards.

Standards play a critical role

Video security standards are more important than ever because perimeter security is increasingly an issue of regulatory compliance as well as protection. Companies that might previously have employed only minimal perimeter security measures are now facing mandates that require a higher level of protection. The Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) are such examples of regulation where perimeter security standards are of paramount importance. There are also other areas coming under increased scrutiny such as airports, rail, bridges and tunnels where protecting the perimeter is a top priority.

Ensuring the effectiveness of perimeter security depends on quantifiable standards of technology performance and operation. Suppliers, integrators and end-users understand the technologies and practices that drive effective perimeter security and are the ones who should be at the table when important standards issues are addressed. SIA's Standards Committee promotes involvement by volunteers from all facets of the industry to develop standards to plot the course of the industry's future.

Of course, while video analytics are expanding the capabilities of perimeter security systems, they are also taking their place alongside more mature technologies. Also considered within the SIA Perimeter Security Subcommittee are physical barriers and other forms of perimeter sensors. Advanced video technologies and legacy solutions must work together to maximize the benefit to the customer. Newer technologies are a specific area where standards are either nonexistent or immature and are the focus of this group.                     

Now is the perfect time to get involved on the ground floor of developing the industry's perimeter security standards. The Perimeter Security Subcommittee is in the process of charting a plan of action and creating working groups to address topics such as a video perimeter security, physical barriers and other sensors in the form of performance and operational standards.