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What is perimeter security? Perimeter security systems play a key role in protecting buildings, campuses, critical infrastructure and facilities surrounding buildings against unauthorized access and other threats. While fixed barriers such as fences and gates provide a physical infrastructure for perimeter security, they must be supplemented by active perimeter security devices that enable security teams to detect, analyze and respond to any intrusion or other incidents. 

A comprehensive perimeter security solution should include security video cameras, perimeter lighting, motion sensors, an alarm system, intrusion detection systems and perimeter access control systems. Businesses should consider both indoor and outdoor perimeter security systems.

This article explores the types of perimeter security that can be deployed as part of commercial security systems and how they can reduce risk and improve responsiveness to external threats to site and building security.

Types of perimeter protection devices

To create strong perimeter protection systems, security teams need multi-layered solutions that deter intruders and provide the highest levels of situational awareness.

Perimeter security cameras

Strategically-positioned video surveillance cameras such as fixed cameras enable security teams to monitor vulnerable areas, analyze and record video footage and detect suspicious activity. The cameras should be positioned to provide the widest possible coverage of vulnerable areas with the fewest camera. Businesses can also invest in panoramic security cameras that provide 360-degree coverage of your perimeter.

A CCTV security system should also capture clear images in all light conditions. Clear images are essential, not just to detect activity but to capture evidence in the event of an incident. Perimeter security cameras are available in a wide range of resolutions, including the latest 7K, 30-megapixel models capable of capturing the highest levels of detail.

To overcome the challenges of poor visibility and low-light conditions, thermal cameras can provide clear images, even in complete darkness.

Perimeter access control

An access control system enables security teams to verify the identity of employees and visitors wishing to enter the site via perimeter doors or gates. Visitors might include contractors, service or maintenance staff, delivery drivers or people visiting on official business.

Employees gain access by presenting different credentials at an access control reader fitted to a perimeter door, gate or other type of barrier. The reader transmits credential details to a controller that validates them against a database of authorized users before issuing a door release signal to allow access or restrict entry.

Visitors can present credentials, such as temporary passes, or request access via an intercom fitted to the door reader. Microphones and speakers allow visitors to talk to security officers or contacts on the site. Video-enabled systems provide further protection by allowing the contact to see the visitor.

In addition to controlling who can enter a site through perimeter control, security personnel can view details of every access event for audit or investigation in the event of an incident with a perimeter access control system.

Modern access control systems are hosted in the cloud, which enables security teams to handle access requests and open entrances remotely from any Internet-connected device, even if they are not on site.

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Security perimeter sensors 

Sensors located in key positions on or near entrances and fences detect movement and other types of disturbance, which can alert security teams to intrusion or other activity. Buried sensors can be installed on walls or fences, buried below ground (ground sensors) or fitted above ground in selected locations. Both indoor and outdoor perimeter security options are necessary. There are six main types of security perimeter sensors:

  • Fiber optic detection system – This system detects changes or breaches in security walls or fences. 

  • Motion sensors – These sensors detect movements and send notifications when movement breaks’ infrared rays. They can be located in various places between perimeter barriers and buildings. 

  • Vibration sensors – These sensors (spot vibration sensors) are installed on perimeter windows, doors, gates and other entrances. They trigger alarms when vibration is detected. 

  • Microphone sensors – Fitting these sensors to perimeter walls or fences can alert security teams if the microphone detects sounds, such as an intruder climbing or damaging a fence. 

  • Radar systems – Radar systems can be installed in large open spaces that are difficult to monitor. They can detect the presence of intruders or vehicles at distances of up to 1500 meters. 

  • Seismic sensors – Similar to vibration sensors, these sensors are installed within specific vulnerable areas and detect vibration caused by an attempted breach. 

Perimeter alarm systems 

Perimeter alarm systems work in conjunction with the different types of perimeter security sensors to alert security teams to activities that should be investigated. The alarms can send notifications through hard-wired links or via the Internet. 

Physical barriers

Walls, fences, gates, doors and barriers, such as bollards, form a physical perimeter protection system that can deter intruders and ensure that only authorized personnel or approved visitors can enter via a perimeter access control system. 

  • Electric fences add further protection by sending notifications if an intruder attempts to scale or cut the fence. As they can also cause shocks, electrified fences may not be permitted in certain regions. 

  • Microwave barriers are perimeter security devices that create an invisible barrier’ using microwave emissions to detect movement. 

Infrastructure for perimeter security systems

Perimeter security devices require a power supply and infrastructure to transmit, record and store data for review, response, audit and evidence. 

Data transmission

Security cameras, sensors, alarms and access control data can be transmitted via dedicated cabling or a wide area network (WAN). If a network is used, it must have the speed and bandwidth to support fast and accurate two-way communication. Consider the following factors. 

  • Speed is essential for security teams to receive notifications quickly and respond rapidly to incidents. 

  • Network bandwidth must be sufficient to support the transmission of video images from perimeter security cameras or perimeter access control systems, which generate large file sizes. 

  • Image quality is vital. It makes analysis easier and provides usable evidence if an intruder’s case goes to court. 

  • Two-way communication supports the signaling required for intercom, perimeter access control and remote door or gate access control systems. 

Power supply

Power for perimeter security devices can be supplied via dedicated cabling or connected from a network using Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology. 

Data storage

Data from the various devices can be stored on-site in servers or the cloud. On-site storage has a finite capacity and has to be managed and maintained by an internal IT team. 

Cloud storage capacity can be increased on demand and maintained, managed and updated by the hosting company. Cloud storage also provides greater flexibility for the security team. They can monitor activity remotely from any location on any device with Internet connectivity. 

Leveraging analytics for perimeter protection systems

Security professionals use different types of perimeter security tools to analyze data from perimeter security cameras, security perimeter sensors and perimeter access control systems. They can review data on dedicated monitors or mobile devices if the perimeter security devices are Internet-enabled. 

To speed up and improve threat detection, security teams can use video analytics technology to identify and respond to suspicious activity. Incorporating artificial intelligence technologies can enhance analysis and detection even further and provide a foundation for automated responses.

Integrated perimeter security solutions

Each perimeter security device provides an important form of protection. However, when the devices are integrated, they provide a much higher level of situational awareness and give security teams a greater opportunity for reliable threat detection. 

For example, integrating perimeter access control systems with perimeter security cameras enables security teams to maintain awareness of the activity of people and vehicles on site, even if they present valid credentials. 

Integrating security cameras like outdoor PTZ cameras with sensors and perimeter security alarms enables security teams to detect suspicious activity in areas not covered by cameras. 

Together, the devices provide security professionals with an end-to-end, 360-degree view of perimeter activity on a single dashboard, which enables easier detection and faster response. 

Integrating perimeter security devices with perimeter lighting systems also provides a basis for automation, which can improve protection levels even further. For example, any device that senses motion at night can automatically trigger perimeter lights, enabling nearby cameras to capture images under optimum lighting conditions. 

How to build an effective perimeter protection strategy

An integrated perimeter security strategy integrates physical barriers with security technologies and the skills of security professionals. An effective strategy incorporates a number of key processes:

  • Deter

  • Detect

  • Assess

  • Respond

  • Communicate

  • Record

  • Analyze

Deter – Together with perimeter access control systems, physical security measures like barriers, such as walls, fences and guard posts, help prevent unauthorized access and reduce the risk of subsequent threats. 

Detect – Perimeter security cameras, security perimeter sensors and perimeter alarm systems alert security teams to intrusions or unusual activity at or inside the perimeter so that they are aware of any threats. 

Assess – Video analytics and artificial intelligence enable security professionals to quickly and accurately identify potentially critical events.

Respond – The security team can respond by investigating an incident in person, contacting law enforcement agencies or initiating processes such as site lockdown or other emergency measures. 

Communicate – While responding to an incident, security teams should also communicate with employees or other people on site who might be at risk if the incident escalates. 

Record – The data relating to an incident should be recorded and stored for detailed analysis, management reporting and evidence. 

Analyze – Following an incident, security teams should analyze related data to identify any trends or weaknesses in the security system as a basis for strengthening perimeter protection systems and taking proactive measures to prevent a recurrence. 

The benefits of a complete perimeter security solution

A comprehensive perimeter security solution provides a number of important benefits.

Reduction in intrusions – The combination of physical barriers, sensors and access control systems ensures that only authorized personnel and vehicles can enter the site. 

Increased situational awareness – Data from security cameras, sensors and alarms presented on a single dashboard ensures that security staff have a 360-degree picture of activity at the perimeter and on the site. 

Faster response to incidents – Accurate images and notifications delivered quickly via a high-speed network enable security professionals to assess and respond rapidly. 

Greater protection – Enhanced perimeter security provides a higher level of protection for the facility, its assets and the people working on site. 

Planning a perimeter security system for your business

Perimeter security is essential to protect industrial plants, utilities, data centers, business parks, commercial campuses, retail parks, warehouses and logistics centers and sites housing critical infrastructure. 

However, there is no one-size-fits-all’ solution. Sites face different threats depending on the nature of their business, location, the size and layout of the perimeter and the volume of people and vehicles accessing the site. 

The plan should begin with a physical security risk assessment to identify the type of threats and the areas and elements of the site that represent the greatest vulnerabilities. 

A detailed survey of the site, its boundaries, access points and physical features will provide a basis for planning physical barriers such as fences and placement of perimeter security devices and supporting infrastructure. 

Equipment selection should be based on performance, reliability and protection against local environmental conditions. Perimeter security cameras should provide the widest coverage with a minimal number of cameras, and perimeter access control systems should combine convenience for employees and visitors with the highest levels of security. 

Planning a comprehensive perimeter protection system can be complex. A professional security system specialist can provide expert advice on threat levels and equipment and carry out surveys and detailed planning. 

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