Facilities that manufacture, store or transport dangerous chemicals operate in a challenging environment with expanding regulatory compliance and security costs. Smart thermal cameras designed specifically for protecting large outdoor areas are now available to help address Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) regulations while also lowering the associated costs.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security developed the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), a comprehensive set of security regulations governing chemical security, to ensure companies that manufacture, store and transport chemicals are properly secured. While various technologies can play a role for chemical security, CFATS does not specify which should be used or how. Instead, CFATS specifies 18 Risk-Based Performance Standards (RBPS) to guide chemical facilities in selecting and implementing appropriate protective measures to reduce vulnerability and manage risk. Video analytics – in conjunction with thermal cameras, represents a viable option for meeting CFATS objectives.
Using Smart Thermal Cameras for Chemical Security
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, thermal cameras with video analytics provide substantial advantages over these alternatives. One advantage is speed, which is paramount when thwarting an intruder. The CFATS Risk-Based Performance Standards specifically call for creating sufficient time between detection of an attack and potential danger to site assets. When speed is important, smart video systems can provide an intrusion alert along with immediate information about the size, location and nature of an event as it unfolds.
Use of cameras that have substantially more on-board image processing enables intelligent video systems to accurately detect the presence of unauthorized persons anywhere across site perimeters and outdoor areas, while filtering the effects of environmental elements. Smart cameras with sufficient processing can provide accurate detection over large areas, regardless of wind, weather or the movement of small animals, trees or blowing trash. Achieving security awareness also depends on knowing the precise location and nature of an intrusion. To meet this objective, some intelligent video cameras employ GPS-based analytics that determine the size, speed and bearing of detected objects according to their precise location, and can project the location of security events onto a site map of the facility for quick response.
Intelligent video cameras are also an economical solution. Image processing gives smart cameras extended range: Some cameras can automatically detect human-sized objects at distances that exceed 600 meters. Detection at greater distances makes it easier to cover more ground with less infrastructure (poles, communications and power), which translates to lower overall costs.
In addition to perimeter security, intelligent video surveillance of outdoor areas is a valuable tool related to other CFATS Risk-Based Performance Standards. These include securing and monitoring restricted areas where chemicals of interest are manufactured, stored or used; deterring insider sabotage; and dealing with specific threats, vulnerabilities or risks. For example, intelligent video can protect internal assets, which often do not have the same types of physical or man-made boundaries found at the perimeter.
Security operations require accurate information in order to mount an appropriate response. Intelligent video yields the necessary security awareness around the perimeter and around internal site assets to meet CFATS requirements.
The intent of CFATS to regulate “results” rather than “methods” leaves the end-user’s options open to embrace best-in-class technologies to provide the necessary levels of security. Intelligent video used at a facility’s perimeter — and to monitor outdoor areas inside a facility — is one example of how technology can deliver superior and cost-effective results for CFATS compliance.