In recent years, utility substations have become a target for theft, especially as the cost of copper has been rising to an all-time high. Most utility substations are unmanned or understaffed and are unable to proactively address security threats before they become a serious issue. Utility providers have realized that security has become increasingly important and that a failure on their part can have severe impacts on the local community. Performing a routine utility perimeter assessment at substations is essential to keeping the nation’s power supply safe from theft and vandalism. With that being said, critical infrastructure surveillance reduces the risk of vandalism on utility properties.
Why Is A Risk Assessment Necessary For Utility Providers?
Electrical substations are a substantial crucial infrastructure and have become a target for terrorist attacks, as well as for thieves and vandals. Utility substation security is essential in today’s unstable environment. Utility providers have looked to perimeter security systems that can detect and deter intruders approaching the substation to mitigate negative outcomes preemptively. Early detection is the key to preventing successful attacks on electrical substations across the country. For that reason, performing a utility perimeter assessment is important to mitigate the following scenarios:
- Prevent theft, vandalism, and terrorist acts – physical barriers like fences and access gates at all entrances and exits act as the first line of defense to keep bad actors off your property and out of your facility.
- Prevent local service disruptions – disruption to electrical substations or an attack on local grids means that homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals would be without power and unable to provide services for an undetermined length of time. Additionally, many emergency and police services would not be able to operate or respond to emergencies when the power is offline.
- Deter intruders from entering sensitive areas – ensuring that only authorized personnel enter restricted areas is critical to maintaining security at energy-generating facilities and preventing individuals from accessing computer systems to launch a cyberattack. Access systems can also integrate with technology to keep track of those who come and go, so operators can keep track of those who are onsite.
- Monitor environmental hazards – advances in technology have allowed surveillance systems to integrate with existing operational systems. This enables operators to monitor and prevent fires or explosions on site before they happen, even if they are off-site or the facility is not staffed.
- Prevent a national grid collapse – monitoring the perimeter of your substation for weak points ensures that people who should not have access to restricted areas cannot enter and do harm. If compromised, systems housed at these facilities could trigger a collapse of the national grid and leave the nation in the dark.
Perimeter Security Measures for Utility Providers
Sometimes, a new pair of expert eyes is all it takes to assess your site’s security. When you hire an outside security firm to perform a utility perimeter assessment, you’ll get a detailed report of every on-site vulnerability at your facility, with strategies for risk mitigation or elimination. A reputable company will walk the perimeter to assess vulnerabilities and take photographs to show you what they have seen. Then, they can recommend security measures such as video surveillance, biometric authentication for employees and contractors, perimeter detection methods, and notifications such as alerts, lights, or horns.
In the past, many security companies would simply have recommended a perimeter fence, but today’s environment has taught us that simple fencing is not enough. Instead, network video surveillance offers versatile and layered protection to help monitor facilities 24/7 in real time. Additionally, surveillance cameras that are visible and prominently placed strategically around the perimeter deter unwanted activity by letting criminals know they are being watched. To boost security, however, many utility operators are adding radar surveillance to their arsenal of tools. Radar surveillance alerts operators when someone breaches the perimeter around the substation and is an effective way to let people know when an intruder is approaching a secure area.
Radar Surveillance: An Advanced Perimeter Solution
Radar surveillance offers a multi-layered aspect of perimeter security and allows utility providers to proactively address security breaches before unauthorized people gain access to their facility. Radar surveillance can be integrated with other technologies like PTZ cameras and video analytic software to create advanced security solutions to protect and secure sensitive areas. The benefits of radar surveillance include:
- High reliability of detection– radar surveillance solutions work in all weather and lighting conditions, providing reliable detection even in suboptimal conditions.
- Multi-layered protection – radar surveillance allows utility providers to protect their facilities with a multi-layered security plan. Deploying multiple methods of detection methods and technologies leads to a reduction of false alarms and ensures operators are getting the information they need to deploy security personnel as required.
- Easy installation – radar surveillance systems are easy to install and the software that runs the system is easily integrated with other security solutions.
- Cost-effective– radar sensors provide a low-cost solution for utility providers concerned about cost, and are an inexpensive add-on to add to already existing security systems.
While security risks to utility providers are increasing, the advanced technologies and security systems that are on the market today provide excellent perimeter protection even for remote sites. After performing a utility perimeter assessment at the site in question, operators can decide which combination of physical security measures and technology will best protect their facility from thieves, criminals, and other bad actors.
Learn more about surveillance options for your utility site by clicking here.
Brent CanfieldCEO and Creator of SentryPODS
Brent Canfield, CEO, and founder of Smart Digital and SentryPODS, founded Smart Digital in 2007 after completing a nine-year active-duty career with the United States Marine Corps. During the 2016 election cycle, he provided executive protection for Dr. Ben Carson. He has also authored articles for Security Info Watch.