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Intrusions at electrical utilities can have serious consequences including service interruptions, equipment damage, copper theft, and fatalities. Multiple layers of security at the perimeter can provide multiple means to detect intrusions, provide context, and respond appropriately. Learn why a major electrical utility company turned to Senstar to meet its physical security goals.

To reduce the vulnerability of electrical infrastructure, governments and regulatory organizations are instituting critical infrastructure protection (CIP) programs. 

While these programs vary region to region, their overall purpose with regards to physical security remains the same: protecting electrical facilities from physical attacks that could threaten the stability and operation of the electric grid distribution system. These programs require operators to implement physical security measures that collectively deter, detect, delay, assess, communicate, and respond to potential threats and vulnerabilities.

While some in the utility industry simply install taller fences, the security administrator of one large electrical utility company has a different approach. He focuses on adding multiple layers of security to his perimeter fences, layers that provide multiple means to detect intrusions, provide context to threats, and respond appropriately.

“If someone is determined to get into a site, a fancy fence won’t stop them,” the security administrator said. 

“Why would I spend a million dollars on a ten-foot fence that someone can climb over with a 12-foot ladder? More layers, more redundancy.”

This approach is why he turned to Senstar, whose field-proven solutions are helping the utility company protect its sites, meet regulatory requirements, and accomplish overall physical security goals. 

FlexZone®: A key component to comprehensive perimeter security 

Senstar’s FlexZone ranging fence-mounted intrusion detection sensor has been installed at 18 of the utility company’s transmission substations. 

FlexZone detects and locates any attempt to cut, climb or otherwise break through the fence. It accurately locates intrusions even when there are multiple simultaneous intrusions and effectively separates environmental noise.

At the utility’s sites, FlexZone is part of a multi-layered security solution that also includes cameras, video analytics, public address systems, and LED perimeter lighting. Sites are remotely monitored by security personnel at a central monitoring station. 

One of the reasons the utility company selected FlexZone was because of its easy integration with other systems. In this case, it is integrated with the lighting systems, so when an intrusion alarm is triggered by FlexZone, additional lighting turns on and a security procedure is activated.

According to the company’s security administrator, FlexZone “is one of our command centre operators’ favourite security modules”.

Senstar LM100™: Two security functions in a ane-of-a-kind product

The introduction of the Senstar LM100 hybrid perimeter intrusion detection and intelligent lighting system to Senstar’s product portfolio offered another option to protect the utility’s sites, especially those without adequate lighting.

Combining two key security functions in one cutting-edge product, the Senstar LM100 was found to have saved the utility company $80,000 USD ($113,300 AUD) per site (versus using separate intrusion detection and lighting systems). The savings are a result of reduced electrical requirements, conduit, grounding, and associated labor, as well as the removal of required two-system integration equipment.

“The LM100 combines all of the functions the two systems provide and it saves us a lot of money,” the security administrator said.

The Senstar LM100 is now installed at several of the company’s sites with additional sites in the planning stages.

Intelligent lighting also ideal for protecting remote sites

With many electrical utility sites located in remote areas, responding to incidents can be difficult. While intruders may select to target remote sites for exactly this reason, the Senstar LM100 can lead them to believe a response is imminent.

The lighting acts as an initial deterrent, but if an intruder persists and attempts to cut, climb or break through the fence, the closest luminaire brightens to its alarm level lighting and/or strobes.  The intruder knows immediately they have been detected and that their exact location is known. In the background, the LM100 sends an alert to the security management system, notifying security personnel of the intrusion.

The LM100’s high colour rendering (CRI) index maximises surveillance camera performance, providing clearer images of the intrusion attempt and the intruders themselves. This enables security personnel to better assess the situation in real-time as well as review post-incident images. 

Bolster security with video analytics 

Many utility sites are monitored by video surveillance systems with feeds managed by video management systems. Adding video analytics to these systems provides another layer of security by bringing intelligence to the perimeter.

For example, consider a site where a people tracking analytic (such as Senstar’s Outdoor People and Vehicle Tracking video analytic) monitors the immediate surrounding area. Under normal operation, the video surveillance system records a low-bandwidth stream. When the analytic detects the movement of people near the perimeter, the video management software switches to a higher quality stream and increases the intensity of the perimeter lighting. 

The improved lighting maximises the performance of the analytic software and ensures potential intruders are recorded (and ideally deterred) well before an intrusion is attempted. If the area has a relatively high amount of nearby legitimate human activity (for example, a public sidewalk near the substation), alarms are only generated when a disturbance occurs on the actual fence. This results in reduced operator overload, as the number of false and nuisance alarms are dramatically reduced.

Multi-layered security for maximum protection

Senstar has been protecting electrical utility sites around the world for more than 40 years. The company’s vast product portfolio provides utility companies with many options for designing a

comprehensive security system comprising multiple layers of protection. Or, a single product can be used to add a layer of protection to an existing system. Either way, Senstar can effectively help utility companies protect against service interruptions, equipment damage, copper theft, and intruder fatalities, as well as address increasing government and regulatory critical infrastructure protection programs.

This partner content was brought to you by Senstar. For more information, please visit www.senstar.com

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