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Perimeter protection P's and Q's.

PERIMETER PROTECTION P's AND Q's THE SUCCESS OR FAILURE OF ANY exterior perimeter detection project lies in planning. To shortcut, omit, or oversimplify the planning task increases the chance of failure immediately.

It is normal to want to simplify any security task. At the same time, managers may have unrealistic operational expectations of perimeter systems. Both attitudes can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory very early in the game. Another danger is becoming infatuated with one technological solution at the onset of the planning process. Security managers must understand the varying site characteristics and objectively eliminate alternative technical applications. The worst planning sin of all is guessing as to the actual cost and then having to compromise on equipment decisions later.

Unfortunately, the mistakes just cited are often a real-life scenario. The solution for many security managers is then "Let's not get involved in exterior systems because old Jim really got burned when he tried them."

However, by minding the p's and q's of perimeter detection system planning, security managers can gain security system enhancements worth being proud of. The first step is to amass as much data as possible on the facility that is to be upgraded or constructed. Many security upgrade projects begin with generalized information but none of the necessary details. Fortunately, those details are often available from a company's engineering and personnel departments, though some surveys may be necessary to fill in the gaps. Examples of details necessary for planning outdoor security include the following:

] actual perimeter distances with a detailed breakdown by fence section every time the fence changes direction. This includes fence turns of less than 90 degrees.

] actual measurements of available land adjacent to the fence line or boundary that could be used to install perimeter systems. Such measurements must reflect the facility environment as it affects the perimeter at various points. For example, on the north and west sides of a hypothetical facility, an ample, grassy, clear zone of 50 ft. may exist. Yet, on the east side, a roadway may narrow this zone from 50 ft. to 20 ft., and the south side of the facility may be covered with asphalt and have vehicles abutting the fence line.

] vehicle traffic data by type and volume. Such traffic should be designated as merely for delivery or for parking within the protected area.

] existing facility illumination.

] weather data such as temperature variations, moisture accumulation in each form, and wind conditions. This would include the number of days per year having wind speeds of 10, 20, or 30 miles per hour or more and the worst recorded wind, rain, snow, and hail storms.

] depth of rod needed to ground electronic systems.

] topography, as changes in elevation of a few feet can be significant for line-of-sight systems.

] population of the facility as well as head counts by entrance.

Such a data base provides the security manager with details not only for system planning and analysis but also for briefing corporate decision makers. In other words, the data base demonstrates that the security group has its act together.

To create a data base and formulate the specific security requirements for a given project, the security manager should consider hiring a consultant or security systems engineering firm. Daily job pressures seldom allow in-house staff members to concentrate on fundamental data research, but independent specialists can provide excellent advice and assistance. The security manager still maintains final control to temper certain approaches based on his or her knowledge of corporate sensitivities.

Many security managers have shied away from using consultants and consulting engineers because of the costs. These costs typically do not exceed 10 percent of the total system price. If the technical expertise provides success, then it is a bargain. While no formal accreditation exists in this field as yet, the International Association of Professional Security Consultants is striving to provide such standards. In addition, many engineering firms have security systems engineers on staff, and the track record of such firms can be reviewed.

THE SELECTED CONSULTANT OR ENgineering firm should be familiar with current exterior sensor technologies, as should at least one member of the security staff. As the facility data base is created, the various technologies can be compared for form, fit, and function. No single technology should be applied in all cases. A realistic finding could employ two or three different types of sensors.

Fence sensors had their beginning in the late 1960s. They come in mechanical, electromechanical, strain-sensitive cable, electrostatic field, taut-wire, and fiber-optic types. The mechanical, electromechanical, and strain-sensitive cable sensors detect intrusion by sensing fence movements. The effectiveness of such sensors depends greatly on the quality of the fence and the tautness of the fence fabric. Too often these reasonably priced sensors have been installed on rusty, loose fabric with support posts that are not vertical, and immediately alarm problems developed. The proposed systematic approach would have included fence replacement costs or considered other technologies.

The mid-1970s saw electrostatic field and taut-wire sensors appear commercially. Such systems can attach to existing chain link fences or be self-supporting. Thus, these technologies do not derive their intrusion alarms from interacting with fence movement but instead require the intruder to engage the detection system itself. Both types have undergone modifications over the years to cope with the myriad of environmental influences. The taut-wire sensors have been the most successful fence technology in reducing environmental nuisance alarms. Both technologies avoid the wind-induced nuisance alarms that bother most other types of fence sensors. However, broken wires or parking lots abutting fence lines can offer genuine concern.

Fiber-optic fence sensors are just evolving on the commercial exterior perimeter scene. Currently, the design follows the break-wire concept by creating an open circuit. While the sensor is low in nuisance alarms, the current design is installed within forbidding razor ribbon. If the intruder avoids breaking any razor ribbon, no intrusion alarm is sounded. Future systems may correct this drawback. In sum, fence sensors may not require a great deal of real estate in which to be installed and operated, but their location at the extreme edge of the property places them at risk of human or wildlife nuisance alarms.

The second category of perimeter detection devices contains line-of-sight systems such as microwave, active infrared, photoelectric beam, and low-power pulsed laser. The devices in that category can accomplish detection if foliage and wildlife conditions are controlled. Some sensors, such as active infrared, require very little lateral real estate for the detection zone; however, microwave generally requires more, particularly at the midpoint between transmitter and receiver. Experience has indicated that the primary error on the part of security planners has been a failure to understand that line-of-sight systems require level terrain. If the terrain is not level, the manager must plan for the costs of moving soil or placing transmitter and receiver units closer together to minimize elevation changes.

The third category consists of inground or buried sensors. The first generation of buried sensors included seismic and magnetic sensors. The first use of such systems occurred in Southeast Asia during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Additional advances were made with pressure-magnetic dual phenomenologies as well as dual seismic lines with combinational processing. The main limiting factor was that such systems passively waited for the simulation of an intruder target. Such passive systems had difficulty in controlling the immediate zone of detection. To catch a creeping intruder, the systems had to be so sensitive that larger, distant targets would cause alarms too.

During the middle to late 1970s, ported coaxial cable sensors were developed. These cables, laid underground in pairs, establish an electromagnetic field between themselves, substantially reducing far-field and environmental nuisance alarms. With the advances of microprocessing, coaxial systems are able to ignore small animal life, one of the principal causes of nuisance alarms.

Coaxial technology can go up and down hills and around corners. Managers should be aware that such equipment cannot be installed too close to chain link fences and that proper water drainage above the cables is necessary. Nuisance alarms can result when water forms large puddles on top of the detection zone and wind causes lapping movement in the puddles.

AFTER THE DATA HAS BEEN DEveloped, the security manager should

] gather input from nonsecurity departments of the company,

] formulate objectives for the system to accomplish,

] check on the system's environmental impact,

] check on building and safety codes,

] develop a plan from the stated objectives, and

] suggest potential systems with stages of implementation.

At this point in the systems engineering process, it is time to look at equipment and installation costs. Budget projections should always be realistic, not hopeful. Managers make more points with superiors when they come in under budget and on time. The trick is to avoid guessing or winging it on the cost. Also, the manager should not go to a local installer and get a bargain basement estimate.

The security manager's staff or his or her consultant should obtain list prices of all equipment down to the power and data wire. Spares and warranty periods of sensor systems should also be figured in. If the company itself can help install the system, then the cost of that assistance should be calculated. However, the security manager should also contact large turnkey installation firms for estimates on three options: installing customer-purchased hardware; purchasing and installing the specified equipment; and purchasing, installing, and maintaining the system for three years with options for extensions.

It is natural to worry about the accuracy of cost estimates. One way to ease the worry is to generate two independent estimates: one in-house and the other by a consultant. Each may note problems and costs that the other omitted. After comparing the estimates, the two parties can come up with a combined, overall projected cost. At the very least, the manager will have a target window.

The final perimeter project steps are procurement and purchasing. The necessary homework has been accomplished to allow for an excellent procurement strategy. If the overall price estimates cause management to wince, it is time to go back to the concept and threat steps and make changes that will allow for a rational reworking of the cost estimate. Rationality here is imperative. Arbitrary cuts across the board give the system a swiss cheese look.

When a security manager runs into resistance this close to installation success, it is no time to panic, for more options are available. For example, sequential installation planning can sometimes spread the project over two fiscal years instead of one.

From a security perspective managers can expect vastly improved detection of intruders and substantially reduced nuisance alarms. Still, it is unrealistic to expect to have absolutely no nuisance alarms. Procedures should be established to assess alarms.

With many exterior sensor systems, the technical procedures of installation are critical to maximize the performance of the sensors. Using consultants or engineering firms to oversee installing contractors may be a wise investment. Further, security managers should require installer personnel to attend manufacturers' in-plant training courses on proper techniques of equipment installation. The manager should also review sensor system warranties and make plans to maintain the system.

Larger security turnkey firms are realizing the potential business opportunities in regionalized maintenance support. The security manager's nightmares in which the installer completes the task and then goes out of business, leaving the security system without support or spare parts, will soon be a thing of the past.

By minding the p's and q's of perimeter detection system planning, today's enlightened security manager can improve his or her security system in an outdoor environment without fear of failure. Success does require a systematic process with attention to detail, but is that not what management is all about?
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Marcks, Frederick C.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1989
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