New Options in Outdoor Protection
Outdoor and perimeter protection has taken on increased importance since the April 2013 attack on a California power station that caused more than $15 million in damages even though the area was protected with video cameras. Since then entities that have outdoor assets have been rethinking and enhancing how they protect outdoor areas.
Fortunately, manufacturers over the past few years have introduced a range of new products designed to enhance outdoor and perimeter security. Examples of these new technologies include gunfire detection, ground scatter radar, and easy-to-install asset protection cabling. In addition, today’s systems increasingly are using audio to enhance protection. Voice-down capability is now available for cloud-based video security, and fence protection systems have been enhanced with sirens and lighting control.
SDM spoke with dealers that have used some of these new offerings about how the technologies have improved response times and deterrence and provided other benefits.
Fence Protection Enhanced
Customers of Columbia, S.C.-based installer Electric Guard Dog include companies that have auto auction yards and auto dismantling yards or that keep other valuable assets outdoors. Many of these customers have had to expand their outdoor storage areas recently, comments Electric Guard Dog CEO Jack De Mao.
Now that the price of gasoline has declined, people are driving more, De Mao explains. “When there are more cars are on the road, that drives more accidents,” he notes. And that, he says, drives “volume into the auto auction and dismantling business.”
Electric Guard Dog specializes in solar-powered electric fences that are installed from 3 to 12 inches inside a traditional perimeter fence to act as a deterrent. Along with the fence, installers put up signs warning would-be intruders. While the company’s systems have always included central station monitored alarms, it recently enhanced protection by adding the ability to upgrade to a higher decibel siren and flash lighting if it detects interference, called the Sentinel. The alarm operates by sensing a drop in voltage that occurs when someone disturbs one of the electrified wires.
The company just began installing fences with the enhanced siren and lighting capability in late 2015 and already has heard success stories from customers, DeMao notes. One customer that had experienced repeated attempts to breach its fence has put an end to those attempts.
New RMR Opportunity
A different type of audio capability has helped enhance video camera protection for Anderson, S.C.-based security installing company Blue Ridge Security Solutions. Blue Ridge has been installing both photoelectric beams and video cameras to protect outdoor areas such as junkyards. When a beam is tripped, the video camera begins sending images to a remote cloud-based data center, where the images are stored, explains Dustin Reeves, the dealer’s sales and marketing manager. At the same time, an audio channel is opened up so that a central station operator can both see what is happening at the site and, if an intruder is present, can speak to the intruder.
As with a traditional alarm system, the central station operator asks for a passcode and, if the person cannot provide the passcode, he or she is asked to leave and authorities are called. Authorities also may respond more quickly because the operator can confirm the presence of an intruder.
Customers can customize how operators respond, explains Reeves. For example, while some customers instruct operators to allow any trucks with the customer’s logo or personnel wearing company uniforms to go through, other customers want operators to ask everyone for a passcode.
Storing video in the cloud eliminates the need for a digital video recorder or network video recorder, thereby reducing the cost of the installation. And Blue Ridge has gained a new source of recurring monthly revenue. The company charges $40 a month for monitoring for end users. Additionally, the company offers the service on a wholesale basis to other security companies.
Blue Ridge also has found opportunities to upsell existing customers that already have outdoor video protection. If there is just a single camera, Blue Ridge usually replaces it, Reeves notes. But the company also offers an encoder option for customers that already have multiple analog cameras.
Asset Protection Cabling
Another security dealer that has many customers that store assets outdoors is Dallas-based Dallas Security Systems. The company traditionally has relied on photoelectric beams and a motion detector with video capability for protection, but soon plans to add another protection element to its installations, explains Gary Stoner, Dallas Security Systems sales consultant.
The company recently learned of a new type of asset protection cabling that it plans to offer customers to enhance protection. The cabling is sold in 15-foot lengths with easy-to-use connectors that enable installers to quickly create a loop of the appropriate length to interconnect protected equipment or other assets — an approach similar to that of a bicycle lock. The circuit also passes through the customer’s security panel and as Stoner describes, “if you interrupt the circuit anywhere, it trips that zone — if you move the equipment, an alarm goes off.”
The idea isn’t a brand new one. For years installers have had the ability to create a makeshift version of the same concept using a length of wire. But Stoner explains, “the issue you used to have was that weather would get into the connection point.” The connectors underpinning the new offering are designed for installation in harsh outdoor environments.
Stoner also believes the new offering will deter customers from taking equipment because they will realize that doing so will generate an alarm.
The 2013 California power station attack generated “a whole new wave of energy security,” comments Brent Franklin, president of Chester Springs, Pa.-based security dealer/integrator Unlimited Technology Inc., which has many utility companies among its customers. Unlimited Technology wasSDM’s 2014 Systems Integrator of the Year (visit www.SDMmag.com/fine-tuned-fitness).
For years such clients have noticed gunshot dings and dents in some of their equipment, usually without any serious damage, Franklin notes. Protecting against gunshot was particularly challenging because shooters could stand outside of the perimeter. Now, however, those clients are taking steps to try to prevent anyone from shooting at their equipment — whether the person or persons are deliberately trying to vandalize the equipment or simply making a poor choice in where to do some target practice.
One solution that Unlimited Technology deploys is gunshot detection technology that works in a manner similar to a glass-breakage detector. “It looks for the acoustic discharge of a bullet casing going off, a sharp concussion noise,” Franklin explains. “They’re acoustic devices that are listening for that and that only.”
When a gunshot sound is detected, the device opens up a microphone so that security personnel or central station operators can hear if multiple shots are being fired as well as the direction of fire.
Ground Scatter Radar
Another advanced technology that Unlimited Technology has begun to deploy is ground scatter radar — a technology that is well suited to covering large areas, Franklin describes. Radar picks up movement and, according to Franklin, “it does a job with masking out false alarms; it’s looking for the build, walk and gait of a person, not a bird flying through.”
Ground scatter radar systems covering distances as large as five miles are available; and although the largest range systems are quite expensive, those covering 350 to 500 meters are quite cost effective, Franklin says.
Another advantage of ground scatter radar is that it works well over water, making it well suited for protecting reservoirs, spillways and the like, Franklin comments. Unlimited Technology normally installs radar in combination with cameras so that security personnel can look in on an installation if the radar system detects a possible intruder.
Security integrators have more options than ever before for protecting outdoor areas. By selecting the right option for an individual installation, dealers can help ensure that customers get the protection they need.
The Value of Perimeter Protection
Anyone questioning the need for outdoor perimeter protection should consider the events of April 2013 in South San Jose, Calif., where one or more vandals did $15.4 million in damage to Pacific Gas & Electricity’s Metcalf power substation.
According to press reports, equipment damaged included 17 transformer and six circuit breakers. In addition, the attackers cut six AT&T fiber optic telecommunications lines in an underground vault.
For more on outdoor and perimeter security, visit SDM’s website where you’ll find the following articles.