Walking the fine line of perimeter protection

April 26, 2024


perimeter protection

In a sit-down chat with SJUK, Dale Jones, Project Sales Manager – UK and Ireland at OPTEX, discusses the importance of perimeter protection and its vital role within a multi-layered security solution.  

What are the primary goals and objectives of implementing perimeter protection? 

As with any security solution, protection – whether that be protection of property, people, possessions, or all of these and more – is the name of the game.

No matter the site or environment, whether it’s a residential property in the British countryside, a data centre out of town or an international airport in the heart of a city, the perimeter represents the first line of defence against unwanted or unauthorised intrusion.

Crucially, early detection of an intrusion or anticipation of a potential threat allows for a faster response time, and in turn increases the chances to deter any attempts of theft and damage, minimising disruption, which is why it is critical to get it right when it comes to intrusion detection technologies.  

Fundamentally, an effective perimeter protection system needs to be highly accurate and reliable, with the ability to not only detection of intrusion, but also to distinguish genuine alarms and triggers from false and nuisance ones.  

What are the key factors to consider when selecting and designing a perimeter protection system? 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. What might be the perfect solution for one site, may not be suitable for another.

For instance, the security needs and requirements for a critical infrastructure site that needs securing against a possible terrorist attack are very different to those of a holiday home or villa, and vice versa.

They each require the level of security appropriate to and commensurate with the risk. 

The makeup and environment of each site is different, with individual characteristics and factors that need to be taken into consideration.

The obvious factors here are size, location and environment.

But specifiers also need to consider whether a potential intrusion can be identified and perhaps even stopped before the perimeter line is breached, whether there are any physical barriers such as fences or gates between the perimeter line and the building, and other points of entry such as roofs, which can often be overlooked.  

Having more information and detail on the makeup of a site and its characteristics, as well as the operational requirements, gives a much greater understanding of the risk and in turn helps to mitigate specific challenges, and this is why an initial site review and assessment is so important. 

What are the benefits and limitations of different types of perimeter protection solutions? 

Whereas fence line or physical barriers in the perimeter can be effective deterrents of an intrusion, they are not able to stop it or to alert if there has been a breach, how many intruders have breached the line, in what direction they are heading or even if the intrusion itself is genuine.  

Stable detection performance in outdoor climates can be a complicated task for certain technologies as they struggle to cope with environmental factors.

False or nuisance alarms can be a costly limitation of AI and video-based systems – although they allow classification of targets and recording of events, when deployed for perimeter monitoring, they should always rely on the stable detection of sensors which are not affected by lighting, temperature, small animals or changes in the weather.  

Intrusion detection solutions enable a proactive security system that provides highly accurate and reliable detection.

Sensing technologies have been specifically designed to ‘detect’ and are not affected by light – in fact sensors can reliably detect even in complete darkness, variable temperatures or external factors such as wind, rain or snow.

With the ability to seamless integrate sensors with CCTV and surveillance systems, security operators and control rooms can see the true picture in real time and coordinate the appropriate response.  

How do perimeter protection strategies vary across different industries and environments? 

The effectiveness of a perimeter security system fundamentally rests on its ability to detect an intruder at the first opportunity.

The sooner the intruder is located, the faster the situation can be verified, and the event dealt with.   

Securing large premises can be a real challenge, especially when it comes to locating an intruder within a perimeter of tens of kilometres.

Data centres, distribution centres, manufacturing plants and transportation hubs, for instance, are all getting bigger and are all examples of industries which, to improve efficiency, are choosing to have fewer, but larger locations.

In certain locations, narrowing down the area of intrusion can help to verify and resolve the situation faster. 

Fibre optic technology, such as the EchoPoint Distributed Acoustic Sensors (DAS), is ideal for securing large perimeters, provides point detection of +/- 6m in a range of up to 100km using intelligent detection algorithms. 

The sensors can be installed in fences or buried and allow for different detection zones to be configured helping to provide maximum capture rates.

They are also able to distinguish between true intrusion attempts and nuisance alarms caused by wildlife or environmental conditions. 

LiDAR technology is also extremely effective for point location, providing the exact coordinates of where an intruder(s) is located.

At OPTEX, we have deployed LiDAR to protect perimeters in a wide range of applications and settings.

It is also ideal for protecting data centres at the perimeter, on the sides and the roof to trigger a notification if an intrusion is attempted.   

What are the best practices for integrating perimeter protection with other security measures? 

The best security combines several different technologies and systems to form a comprehensive and multi-layered intrusion detection system.  

For any perimeter protection system, the ability and functionality to integrate with other security systems and devices, whether that’s CCTV cameras, VMS or PSIM is hugely important as it enables security teams and operators to get a clearer picture of what’s really going on. 

Being able to quickly identify the point of intrusion is crucial, and being able to track intruders around the site further enhances security by helping to ensure the appropriate response is enacted.

While point locating systems are one of the great developments in sensing technology, they can only deliver their full value if the functionality is integrated with a suitable management software or platform which can interpret the information provided and present it in a meaningful way to operators.  

When it comes to meeting the specific needs of each site, best practice is to mitigate the level of threats and risks involved by using a combination of intelligent technologies and sensors in layers.  

What emerging trends and advancements are shaping the future of perimeter protection? 

The need for more accurate positional data is and will continue to become increasingly important, with new technological advancements and innovations being developed to enable an even faster and more coordinated security response, which will in turn help support security teams.

Similarly, we’re seeing an increase in demand for seamless integration between security technologies and devices, and hence more demand for ONVIF compliance. 

This interconnectedness extends to network security measures, with more demand for devices that are equipped to evade potential cyber-attacks, which leverage advanced encryption protocols and anomaly monitoring.  

This article was originally published in the April Edition of Security Journal United Kingdom. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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