The development of wide area surveillance systems

Phillip Mann looks at the current development of wide area surveillance, which is allowing CCTV operators valuable time to carry out a real time threat assessment of the potential threat

While traditionally, barrier mounted sensors have been the de facto standard for fence mounted perimeter security systems for many years now this could change due to both the new threat and emerging technology.

While barrier mounted sensors and free-standing sensors have served the perimeter market well for a number of years, wide area surveillance is now becoming a viable option particularly for larger sites due mainly to the following reasons: object recognition and localisation; drone detection; geo referenced tracking; the ability to detect multiple targets before an actual security breach; and continual intruder tracking within the protected area should the perimeter be breached.

In many instances wide area surveillance technology compliments traditional barrier mounted sensors by providing a pre alarm prior to any fence sensor actuation allowing for an early response by the site security to both evaluate the threat and take appropriate action. Systems that utilise GPS positioning coordinates can automatically pass the coordinates to a mobile guard force allowing for a much faster response by directing the guard force directly to the threat with continual updates of the movements of the intruder by real time tracking and also allowing the central control personnel a real time threat analysis of the situation.

As technology evolves some manufactures of wide area surveillance system are now developing security drones which also utilise GPS coordinates to fly directly to the threat and monitor the ongoing situation with high definition on-board cameras. The drones can also update a mobile security force with real time video.

Ground based systems
Other benefits of wide area surveillance can be realised in situations whereby the would-be threat penetrates the perimeter and gains access to the site. Larger sites which have many buildings and objects can provide the intruder with areas to hide and avoid detection therefore the benefits of continual real time tracking, and geo reference are obvious.

Object recognition and localisation based on human recognition and tracking is not the only benefit of wide area surveillance. Drone detection is fast becoming a major concern for the security and protection of high values critical sites. As drone technology improves many drones can now carry a useful payload in addition to cameras. Early detection of hostile drones outside the perimeter is essential to allow a complete assessment of the threat.

Many ground based wide area surveillance systems allow the user to pre-programme multiple detection zones as an example, outer zone detection which require monitoring and inner zones which require direct action by a response force. In addition, wide area surveillance systems allow for multiple threats to be recognised and localised simultaneously.

Continual surveillance
The development of wide area security surveillance system provides the user and operator of critical sites such as airports, power plants, military facilities and many other sites which may be critical to the National Infrastructure the benefits of all weather, day/night continual surveillance and geo referenced real time tracking of would be threats including hostile drones and multiple attacks. It would also be true to say that his technology is also a consideration for safety critical applications such as railways and other areas whereby localised sensors may not be an option due to safe access for ongoing maintenance and other considerations.

There are many companies developing wide area surveillance and tracking technology in various forms such as airborne surveillance, ground based radar and dual airborne/ground systems ranging from cost effective solutions for smaller and medium sites up to large scale military applications. In addition, the technology could be considered for internal on-site movements around critical areas where there is a need for continuous monitoring for both safety and security concerns.

There is a wide choice of technology available on the security market and the development in wide area surveillance system continues to grow as the modern threat becomes more sophisticated and varied. Some manufactures are already including phone blocking technology for airborne security drones including phone recognition albeit mostly for government use.


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