Securing Critical Infrastructure: It’s More than Perimeter Protection
When you talk with customers about securing their critical infrastructure sites, it’s important to help them understand the challenge is threefold. They need to:
- Secure the property.
- Secure the processes.
- Secure the safety of people.
But that doesn’t mean they have to triple their investment in security systems. With Axis IP-based technology, it’s possible to achieve all three goals with one solution. By integrating a mix of Axis’ fixed, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) and thermal network cameras and video analytics with radar tracking, sensors and mass communication systems, you can help them deploy security solutions with the intelligence and versatility to address virtually any scenario from attempted sabotage to equipment failure and emergency evacuation.
“Partnering with Axis gives integrators access to a broad portfolio of intrusion protection solutions designed to safeguard a customer’s site from the outer perimeter through to the critical core,” said Joe Morgan, Business Development Manager, Critical Infrastructure, Axis Communications.
Built to open standards, Axis technology easily scales to meet the needs of any size facility. What really distinguishes Axis surveillance solutions from typical investigative tools are the wide variety of analytics they support for proactive defense.
For instance with the addition of analytics like AXIS Perimeter Defender, customers get real-time, three-dimensional detection of moving people and vehicles and automatically receive alerts about potential intruders. When coupled with AXIS Perimeter Defender, PTZ Auto-tracking, can automatically direct an associated Axis PTZ camera to pan to that location, zoom in and track the object.
With Axis, the goal is to provide integrators, installers and end users with a complete and coordinated solution rather than a piecemeal response to separate security challenges.
Securing property: Keeping the bad guys out
It all begins at the perimeter. Whether it’s to deter sabotage, theft or other mischief, customers want security systems in place that keep bad guys off the property. To that end, critical infrastructure integrators and installers need to become proficient at integrating network cameras with radar, ground and fence sensors, access control and other technologies to detect people, vehicles and objects where they shouldn’t be.
“Choosing the right camera for each location is paramount,” noted Morgan. “Axis provides a broad portfolio of visual-light network cameras – fixed and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) – that are ideal for bright light, low-light and wide dynamic range environments.”
For isolated, extreme lowlight or dark facilities like substations and tunnels, we also recommend deploying Axis thermal cameras to spot the heat signature of intruders lurking in the shadows or trying to camouflage themselves in the surroundings. As an extra layer of protection, integrating Axis network audio systems into these surveillance solutions gives customers a flexible means for verbally warning off trespassers with a live or recorded message.
Enhancing an Axis solution with intelligent onboard analytics can further improve security by:
- Verifying the validity of the threat and assessing its nature
- Eliminating the cost of responding to false alarms
- Providing valuable data for artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve detection accuracy
Let’s take a closer look at AXIS Perimeter Defender as an example. Designed for high detection accuracy, the application automatically learns to handle variable illumination and disregard extraneous motion such as swaying vegetation. This ability to distinguish and classify differences helps the application fine-tune its algorithm, ultimately optimizing its performance and minimizing false alarms. AXIS Perimeter Defender can be programmed to trigger alarms for multiple detection scenarios so you can configure the setup to your customer’s individual needs. For instance:
- Intrusion: When one or more people or vehicles enter a predetermined zone
- Zone crossing: When a person or vehicle passes through two predetermined zones in a specific order and direction
- Loitering: When a person or vehicle remains in a predetermined zone for a specific time period
- Conditional zone crossing: When a person or vehicle enters a predetermined zone without starting in or passing through one or more predetermined zones
Because the application integrates with an Axis camera’s event management function, your customer can decide how they want the system to automatically respond to intruders. They can choose to have the camera send continuous live video and email alerts to security staff, allowing guards to focus on potential problems and take preventive action. Or the camera can record and send video only on alarm, which drastically reduces the volume of video, making reviewing and searching for incidents easier. You can also program their cameras to activate a loudspeaker to scare off intruders.
As mentioned earlier, when you couple AXIS Perimeter Defender with PTZ auto-tracking, the customer can maintain continuous detection coverage of a scene with a fixed visual or thermal camera while automatically directing a PTZ camera to track and zoom in for closer views of alarm objects.
While Axis integrated solutions work well for perimeter security, your customers can also leverage this technology to mitigate other high priority concerns, significantly enhancing their return on their surveillance investment.
Securing processes: Keeping systems up and running
Another major concern for critical infrastructure customers is system downtime. Site manager must continuously monitor facility processes to forestall costly repairs and shutdowns. Axis cameras are particularly well-suited to this task. Including thermal network cameras as part of the security solution gives critical infrastructure operators the means to detect suspicious activity around the clock. Once detected, operators can use PTZ cameras to zoom in and verify the event before deciding on what action to take.
Furthermore, enhancing an Axis thermal camera with advanced isothermal analytics, noted Morgan, gives it the ability to detect subtle temperature variances that could indicate overheating ball bearings, a blocked valve or a leaky pipe.
“Because of their onboard intelligence and versatility,” explained Morgan, “these network cameras can be used to measure tank levels, monitor refinery flare stacks, even help operators avert wide-scale electrical outages by predicting transformer and switch gear failures at power substations. When you link them to Axis PTZ cameras with auto-tracking, as mentioned above, an operator can then zoom in with the visual light camera for closer inspection of the problem and even direct corrective action.”
What makes this solution so elegant is that the same PTZ camera can easily shift from monitoring a fence line (see AXIS Perimeter Defender mentioned above) to reading a dial on a critical piece of equipment and back again.
You can enhance the critical infrastructure solution even further by integrating Axis network cameras with Axis network audio systems and production monitoring systems like SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition sensors) and network audio system. This will give your customers the ability to:
- Inspect processes and verify that they are running correctly
- Visually assess reported failures
- Facilitate predictive maintenance and trend monitoring
- Remotely dialogue with onsite technicians to assist with maintenance
Having the network surveillance system do double duty—protect the premises from intruders and protect processes against inefficiencies and costly down time—doubles the return on investment. It also provides an opportunity to share the cost of surveillance between several departments. And when you throw in health and safety duty, network surveillance delivers a trifecta of benefits.
Securing personnel: Keeping people out of harm’s way
That brings us to the third security challenge: securing personnel.
“We all know critical infrastructures can be dangerous places,” said Morgan. "High voltage wires . . . combustible chemicals . . . hazardous waste. With potential threats around every corner, safety is a major issue. Here, too, Axis technology can play a pivotal role in helping you mitigating those risks for your customers.”
Visual and thermal cameras, whether fixed or PTZ, can trigger alerts when they detect personnel entering dangerous or off-limit areas such as tunnels, railway tracks and bridges. In the case of thermal cameras, they can also detect early-warning signs that self-igniting material, such as dust or oily rags, are about to combust. Equally important, thermal cameras can track heat signatures to ensure everyone evacuates safely in an emergency. And in case of harmful emissions or a chemical spill, they can identify safe exit routes that avoid the vented discharge or flow.
When you integrate Axis network video with access control systems and intelligent analytics, you give critical infrastructure operators multiple ways to protect the health and safety of their workers, the public and the surrounding environment. The complete security solution can help operators:
- Visually monitor policy adherence and evaluate risks in real time
- Control access to restricted areas
- Track and support rescue teams and confirm evacuations
Triple duty from a single investment
A critical infrastructure’s site security plan needs to address all three areas of risk: traditional physical security, process security and personnel safety security. Because Axis network surveillance systems can handle multiple duties simultaneously, they’re able to help facilities achieve superior intrusion detection, more reliable operations and a safer, healthier environment for their workforce. It’s like getting three systems in one: triple the duty and triple the return on investment.