Eastern U.S. Utility Deploys SightSensors for Electric Substation Security

SightLogix smart thermal camera systems have been deployed for electric substation security at a major electric utility serving the eastern United States. SightSensor thermal systems enable the utility to detect and respond to electric substation security incidents across multiple sites, ranging from copper theft to vandalism while also meeting NERC CIP 14 Physical Security compliance.

Since being installed, the SightLogix system has successfully detected several unauthorized substation security intrusions. This has allowed the utility to prevent security violations before damage could occur.

At each substation facility, Thermal SightSensors are positioned along the perimeter. Each is paired with a high resolution Pan Tilt Zoom camera for alarm assessment. When a Thermal SightSensor detects an intruder, the target’s location information is sent over the network to a SightTracker PTZ controller. The SightTracker automatically zooms and steers PTZ cameras to follow the intruder. The target’s location is also displayed on a topology site map to provide real-time situational awareness. Alarms are sent to the utility’s 24-hour security operations center, which will contact law enforcement in real time when unauthorized intrusions are detected.

Electric Substation Security – Detection Accuracy, Lower Costs

According to the utility’s corporate security director, the SightLogix solution has provided excellent detection with minimal nuisance alarms. SightLogix thermal cameras detect with a high degree of accuracy outdoors, in complete darkness, low-light, bright sun, and difficult weather conditions. These features make them an excellent choice for electric substation security applications.

The utility and their security integrator also reported  lower costs associated with the SightLogix system. By selecting long-range and wide area SightSensors, the integrator reduced the number of cameras otherwise needed, lowering infrastructure and maintenance costs. The utility also reports that the ruggedized SightLogix system has stood up well to the elements. It has also been a very easy system to install, setup and maintain.

The utility serves several million customers in their coverage territory, which includes various types and classifications of electrical transmission substations. These facilities must comply with NERC Reliability Standards (NERC CIP). The electrical utility plans to continue installing SightLogix systems at additional sites, with emphasis on higher-risk substation security locations.

“Threats to electrical assets can take many forms,” said John Romanowich, President and CEO, SightLogix. “Vandalism, theft, and sabotage can cause disruptions in operations and serious safety concerns with far-reaching repercussions. These installations exemplify how smart thermal solutions are being used to protect assets of the nation’s power grid.”

SightLogix systems are being used at utilities throughout North America, Canada, Europe and the Middle East, protecting assets that include substations, solar farms, hydro facilities, power transmission and distribution, and nuclear power plants.


  • Wondering if you have any comments on pros and cons of using thermal cameras vs radars like that provided by SpotterRF for substation perimeter security.

    • Scott, I don’t think we would argue that one is better than the other – radar certainly has a role to play and in some cases it makes sense to take a layered approach, using multiple systems.

      That said, if you needed to choose just one, thermal offers the advantage of combing a very accurate detection source for the outdoors, along with visual verification in a single system. So you would get instant notification and immediate awareness about the nature of the alert, and can respond quickly.

      Radar is much less discriminating in terms of accuracy over large areas and therefore can generate many nuisance alerts. In some applications, where you have the resources and need to respond to every single potential threat, this may be desirable. In other applications, too many nuisance alerts eventually undermine the system’s effectiveness. With smart thermal solutions, you can trust that an alert means it’s something that needs attention, so your security efficacy goes up, while costs go down.

      Thanks for your comment.


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