Everyone in the United States depends on the utility industry. In fact, our daily lives center around the by-product of this critical asset. That means that continuity of service is critical in the utility industry. Customers want to know that they will have power, gas, or water whenever they need it. That means utility providers must prevent service interruptions of any kind. Keeping a watchful eye on essential facilities and assets enables providers to identify problems and resolve them as quickly as possible. However, this can be challenging to do, especially if the utility site is located in a remote area or it is an unmanned facility, like a utility substation. This is where utility site cameras and surveillance systems can greatly benefit utility providers. With that being said, the need for critical infrastructure surveillance continues to grow.
Why Install Utility Site Cameras?
The need to address the security surrounding electricity infrastructures is broadly recognized within the industry. It has been made a high-priority issue that is driven by many factors, including the rapid evolution of threats and consistent technological advancements of bad actors as well as the potentially catastrophic consequences that can result from a disruption to this infrastructure.
Video monitoring solutions, including utility site cameras, have long been used on-site for security purposes. However, video surveillance is now playing a much larger role in the security profile of utility companies. Video monitoring solutions are vital for protecting the physical security of infrastructure and remote facilities. Operators have found that they can be used for other applications, too. These applications include equipment monitoring, asset management, and substation automation. Utility providers can also check on aging equipment and structures to gauge safety and order repairs or maintenance, thereby decreasing service interruptions. When combined with advanced data analytics and other software, the basic operations of utility sites can be enhanced through video monitoring and utility site cameras.
In addition to monitoring equipment and structures, there are three other key reasons why it is important to monitor utility sites and the critical infrastructure it encompasses:
- Theft – valuable equipment and materials can be tempting for thieves, especially in remote areas where there is less of a chance of being seen. Video surveillance systems and utility site cameras can prevent thieves from targeting your site.
- Tampering – An point along essential utility lines could become a target for terrorists or other bad actors seeking to harm others. Having 24/7 remote access to your sprawling infrastructure allows you to address potential problems and threats in real time.
- Natural disasters – when an earthquake, lightning strike, mudslide, or another type of catastrophe causes an outage, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause if you are not on-site. However, with around-the-clock remote monitoring, you can address the root cause immediately and deploy a fast response team to correct the situation.
Key Qualities Of A Video Surveillance System For Your Utility Site
When installing a surveillance system for your utility site, here are some of the key features to look for:
- Rugged build – video surveillance systems at remote sites (especially substations) are subject to extreme weather conditions, such as strong wind, rainstorms, and snow. Surveillance cameras should be constructed from rugged materials to ensure proper functioning. In addition, utility site cameras should be easily deployable and simple to install.
- Motion detection with PTZ – surveillance cameras equipped with motion-detecting sensors automatically lock onto an intruder, while the PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) feature allows the camera to track and record movement.
- Wireless, remote access – remote areas do not have wi-fi, so it is critical that the cameras and surveillance system you install allow you to have wireless, remote access. Most systems now allow you to monitor your facility from anywhere and from any device. This is critical for 24/7 surveillance and allows managers to respond to security threats in real-time.
- Video analytics – surveillance cameras with video analytics allow operators to program which security concerns or safety issues need to be addressed and facilitate an appropriate response. In addition, the archival footage gathered by the video surveillance system is stored and readily available to law enforcement if a negative event does occur at your facility.
- Additional security options – consider adding additional security measures to your utility site camera system. Integrating your new system with features such as alarm sensors and audio intervention increases your facility’s security.
Benefits of Video Surveillance Systems In The Energy Industry
Integrating physical security measures with state-of-the-art utility site cameras, video surveillance, video analytics and remote monitoring is the most comprehensive and effective way to protect your utility site. It also can increase the efficiency of your operations while at the same time decreasing the risk. The key benefits of installing a video surveillance system include:
- Deter – video surveillance deters crime by allowing utility site providers to detect criminal activity before it occurs, effectively reducing theft and vandalism on-site.
- Detect – video surveillance allows operators to detect anomalies at the utility site as well as within the site’s computer network. This proactive approach can help detect problems before they occur, and effectively minimize service interruptions.
- Delay – physical deterrents, like prominently visible surveillance cameras placed strategically around the perimeter of your utility site, make a criminal think twice before entering your facility and allow you time to deal with any security breach that has occurred.
Utility site cameras and other video surveillance equipment offer utility sites the security they need to mitigate a serious breach, as well as the ability to remotely inspect all assets and the surrounding environment. By investing in this type of advanced technology, utility service providers can ensure the consistent delivery of energy to consumers without service interruption or other upheavals.
For more information about video surveillance options for utility sites, click 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.