By Randall Foster
Facilities that border a body of water face unique security challenges due to the difficulty associated with protecting their perimeters. Even an area surrounded entirely by land must address a variety of situations which can tax even the most efficient security force. In either case, though, threat detection only offers a glimpse of the potential or lack of severity associated with activities occurring near or around highly guarded areas.
For instance, a threat detection device can alert security personnel about a small watercraft that is nearing a facility’s border. However, radar alone is unable to determine if the vessel is a tiny fishing boat or a suspicious-looking raft carrying people who may have criminal intentions. Because of the limited amount of information provided by the threat detection solution, it may be necessary to dispatch guards, vehicles, or vessels to determine the nature of a perceived threat.
A person tasked with protecting property surrounded by land must also deal with the shortcomings of a system which relies solely on threat detection. A nighttime alarm can just as easily be triggered by a person as an animal that happens to be roaming near a fence. The ability to distinguish what may amount to a dangerous situation versus a false alarm is nearly impossible when relying solely on threat detection. As a result, such a scenario may require investigation by what are often limited people resources regardless of the outcome. Logistical and financial challenges, however, make it difficult if not impossible to respond to every potential threat.
Fortunately, threat detection followed immediately by effective threat assessment allows a security team, regardless of its size, to secure critical assets rather than experience a serious breach of security. A high magnification, long-range day/night optical surveillance system can often serve as a strong complement to a range of threat detection sensors. Armed with such a combination of technology, security personnel can now better gauge potential breaches in a rapid yet economical fashion.
A WINNING COMBINATION
By combining detection and assessment tools, security personnel can quickly gain the necessary information to work smarter and more efficiently. A high quality optical surveillance and assessment solution enables a staff tasked with protecting a large area to better understand potential threats, recognize and identify details of the threat, and respond in the best and most appropriate manner.
Coupled with technologies such as radar, alarms, or other solutions that detect threats or motion around a border or perimeter, long-range day/night surveillance technology allows security personnel to rapidly assess potential breaches and recognize and identify threats. Such measures are not possible with conventional products. When paired with an alarm system, for example, surveillance technologies enable security personnel to visually investigate threats at a considerable distance and respond with the appropriate resources. Consider a large casino, for example, where there is significant traffic and activity at night. There may be parking areas across from the facility, gardens, pools and other outdoor common areas, as well as multiple front and back entrances and exits to a building. With the added element of alcohol consumption, undesirable activities can erupt quickly in multiple locations. Fights, vandalism, and other dangerous behavior are activities casino managers are constantly working to prevent. Using long-range night surveillance tools, security personnel can quickly scan an entire campus and quickly assess and react to potential threats. An alarm at the entrance to a resort may have sounded, indicating an unauthorized visitor has passed through the gate. Meanwhile, a separate alarm around the perimeter of a swimming pool might indicate that guests have entered the area after hours. Security personnel can quickly review these threats from a central monitoring station, prioritize their importance, and deploy the necessary security resources to deal with the most urgent issues first.
By integrating an optimal surveillance system with other existing security solutions, the casino resort can strengthen its threat assessment capabilities and reduce liability with the power to visually assess and appropriately respond to threats.
Greater area with red box around the actual camera target (bottom), view of a ship using
Vumiis long-range night vision camera (top left), thermal image of that same ship (top right)
(Photo by Discoverii)
KEY TO SECURITY SUCCESS
The right surveillance assessment tool clearly provides organizations with unique threat prevention capabilities. As evidenced by the examples above, the optimal time to thwart potential security breach is during a period in which a would-be intruder is conducting reconnaissance and thoroughly testing and planning for an event by watching a site or even approaching the perimeter of a target. Such efforts may include attempting to test the threat detection capabilities of a given facility. Such repeated disturbances, however, may be viewed as false alarms if security professionals are unable to gather details related to such events. Fortunately, visual assessment tools provide security personnel with an actual view of detected events and offer useful context regarding the situation such as a culprits appearance, written markings, and other scene details.
The ultimate benefit of accurately assessing a false alarm means organizations require fewer people to respond to such time-consuming incidents and allow for the monitoring of larger perimeters and borders. This approach brings an exponential savings to any organization while allowing security personnel to make better and more appropriate use of their time and respond more quickly to legitimate activities.
To maintain an economic approach to security, though, the accuracy and ability of assessment tools are important. A facility can be blanketed with lights and cameras but that would require a tremendous amount of equipment and power negating any of the potential financial benefits gained from pairing assessment and detection solutions.
Cameras with strong magnification capabilities present an option for a facility to deploy fewer devices for assessment while ensuring excellent coverage. Video analytics also plays a valuable role during threat assessment because these tools further enhance the security professional’s ability to accurately characterize the threat. Meaningful analytics, though, require the best video images possible.
BETWEEN DAY AND NIGHT
While the ability to use such assessment solutions during the day may not present a challenge, undertaking such an effort at night remains an important consideration. Security breaches will generally take place when intruders feel they are less likely to be detected. It is critical that assessment capabilities be extremely powerful and accurate at night. For example, a police force in a city with an extended waterfront park may hear a report of trouble two miles away from its headquarters. Undesirable activities such as drug trafficking, vandalism, and underage drinking largely take place at night, often in unlit areas such as a bridge underpass. A long-range night surveillance system would allow law enforcement officials to visually inspect the entire area from their headquarters in a covert manner. This approach allows them not only to identify the perpetrators and record unlawful activities on video, but empowers police officers to decide which resources to deploy on-site to resolve the problem.
Under the same scenario without long-range night surveillance, the police department would need to deploy officers immediately to investigate the area. Seeing cars approach, the perpetrators would scatter or hide, leaving officers with no leads and potentially a wasted trip.
Ideally, nighttime video assessment is most effective using active covert illumination, high resolution, and high magnification coupled with image enhancement to present high-quality video at night at ranges up to 3,000 meters. This approach delivers superior investigative capabilities and results in the most economical and safest perimeter border protection.
Photo by Discoverii
EXTENDING PERIMETER SECURITY
Whether utilizing operational or security resources, visually extending the perimeter of any area or facility -- in transportation, critical infrastructure, or government -- to see further allows operators to better and more appropriately respond to a variety of situations. The expression that a picture is worth a 1,000 words is especially true for improved threat detection and assessment capabilities.
For example, maritime domain awareness -- the ability to know where traffic is as it sits off shore and approaches a port as well as who is operating a particular vessel -- becomes a reality with a long-range day/night surveillance system. Such a system can help a port operator establish if a ship sitting off shore has business in the port and what resources are required to unload its cargo. This awareness can lead to lower operational costs as equipment and crews are better utilized as a workforce learns how many ships are waiting to enter a port and how much time a particular ship may spend in port. Additionally, security personnel also have insight into other traffic around the port. If a small boat gets too close to a cargo ship it may pose a danger to itself or even raise concerns about potential terrorist activities. Port operators can respond accordingly.
Other capabilities gained with long-range surveillance technology include the ability for security personnel to identify if a ship is in distress by seeing a flag which has been turned upside down or better understand why a vessel hasn’t responded to a radio call. Perhaps a ships identification number has been concealed in some way. This suspicious situation could also be identified from a distance with the right long-range surveillance tool.
The use of threat detection and threat assessment tools in tandem provides security personnel with a means to more intelligently react to a potential event or understand when a false alarm has occurred. Utilizing an assessment approach which delivers the best possible image during the day or at night adds an extra level of value to a complete security solution. It also brings an organization an efficient and cost-effect means of protecting valuable assets, property and people without making a huge financial outlay or investing in complex training often associated with the deployment of technology.
Randall Foster is CEO, President and Co-founder of Vumii (www.vumii.com).
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