The perimeter security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex highlights a long-standing challenge for perimeter systems used to protect outdoor areas.
According to the New York Times, activists were able to penetrate several fences, spending “several hours” inside the facility in close proximity to over 100 tons of highly enriched uranium. While the intruders “activated numerous alarms and sensors,” the Times article explains that in the past, “security officers at the site have complained that alarms go off frequently” due to the movement of animals.
Repeated false alarms can eventually condition security operators to ignore valid alerts, undermining security effectiveness and causing security teams to lose trust in their perimeter security systems. Given the experience of constant nuisance alarms at the Y-12 facility, it’s not surprising that a real intrusion did not trigger a security response.
Achieving security awareness around perimeters comes down to timely, credible alerts with detail to respond. 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, intelligent video systems with advanced video analytics provide substantial advantages over these alternatives, increasing the probability of intruder detection while greatly reducing the nuisance alarms that have plagued automated systems in the past.
Specifically, new-generation thermal cameras now incorporate a much higher amount of image processing inside the camera, making important scene details visible to both the human eye and to the analytics for automation purposes. Such cameras are able to accurately detect the presence of unauthorized persons anywhere across site perimeters, eliminating nuisance alerts caused by wind, weather or the movement of small animals, trees or blowing trash. Such a system delivers the necessary “security awareness” around the perimeter and internal site assets driving new levels of accountability with alerts that can be trusted.
A TSA test at Buffalo Airport highlighted the value of a smart thermal perimeter detection system. The test showed that it is possible to ensure accuracy, even in an uncontrolled environment with constant changes in lighting, wind, clouds and other variables, and to provide effective outdoor security that isn’t plagued by nuisance alarms and misdetects.
A system like this can deliver cost savings too. On-board image processing offers extended detection capabilities, reducing the number of poles, trenching and communications needed for a deployment. The result is a more accurate perimeter security system that lowers costs while increasing security awareness.