How to select the right perimeter sensor to fit your needs

How to select the right perimeter sensor to fit your needs
Perimeter security is made up of many different parts. Fences and gates provide barriers, and video surveillance cameras can help monitor a perimeter. However, the use of different types of sensors, from fence sensors to buried sensors to motion sensors, plays a vital role in the effectiveness of a perimeter intrusion detection system (PIDS).

Based on figures from a report by MarketsandMarkets, the overall global perimeter security market is expected to grow from approximately US$14 billion in 2015 to US$20.3 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 7.6 percent — this includes technologies, such as microwave sensors, infrared sensors, radar sensors and fiber-optic sensors.

Challenges in deploying sensing technologies
The challenges of deploying perimeter sensing technology depend on the application and requirements. “One of the key challenges in deploying perimeter sensing technology is ensuring that the appropriate detection solutions are specified for a particular application,” said Maira Zanrosso, Director of Sales and Marketing at Southwest Microwave.

Ensuring uniform detection sensitivity along the entire protected perimeter is another challenge of deploying perimeter sensing technology. “Variations in fence fabric or tension can affect the detection performance of certain fence detection systems. Variations in ground material or soil conductivity can affect the detection performance of certain buried cable solutions,” Zanrosso added.

To combat this issue, Southwest Microwave offers Sensitivity Leveling, a proprietary technology. The technology is a proprietary calibration process that compensates for environmental variations to ensure uniform detection sensitivity along the protected area.

One of the biggest challenges, however, is false alarms and how to reduce such alarms from occurring. “If a user’s system triggers false alarms often, then they may end up abandoning it altogether — and it’s unlikely their neighbors will respond or want to invest in such a system either!” said Farshid Ossareh, Product Line Leader at Honeywell Security and Fire. For example, homeowners that have pets might need to invest in more advanced sensors that can differentiate small animals from human intruders so that their pets aren’t constantly triggering false alarms. As a result, false activations have been the main driver in PIR sensor development due to the risk of damaging the end user’s confidence in his security system.

Jeremy Weese, COO of Senstar also addressed the challenge of minimizing false activations, or nuisance alarm rates. “Sensing technology has to be able to distinguish between real intrusions, and disturbances caused by environmental conditions such as wind, rain and snow.” Another challenge Weese noted was being able to secure gates effectively. “While sensing cable can be easily installed on fences, it can be quite cumbersome to use on swinging or sliding gates.”

Many companies have developed a way to deal with nuisance alarms.


For example, Honeywell’s outdoor PIRs offer curtain detection, which could help minimize the risk of false activations. Senstar equips many of its sensors with environmentally derived adaptive processing technology (EDAPT), which helps mitigate the effect of environmental changes such as wind and heavy rain. Southwest Microwave employs a proprietary technology called Point Impact Discrimination, which can identify localized attempts to cut or climb a fence, while ignoring distributed fence noise generated by wind, rain or vehicle traffic.

Another way companies are meeting these challenges is by integrating cameras with sensors for video verification. In fact, in March of this year, Honeywell acquired RSI Video Technologies, manufacturer of the Videofied brand of wireless battery-powered motion detectors with built-in cameras. Sensors that offer built-in cameras allow end users to easily identify if an alarm is real or false.

Consider requirements before deploying
Deploying sensing technology as part of a perimeter security system could significantly help a system’s effectiveness and accuracy. However, in order to reap the full benefits, it is important that the type of sensing technology being deployed is right for the system’s requirements and needs. Conducting a site survey before any deployment is one way to ensure the right sensing technology is being used. “Customers first need to consider their site requirements, size of perimeter and security concerns,” Weese said. “They also need to consider if there is already an existing security system in place and how it is being managed.”

According to Masaya Kida, Senior Manager of the Product and Business Planning Department in the Security Business Division of Optex, site conditions (i.e., weather condition, installation location condition), possible intruder paths, and balancing the pros and cons of different technologies are also important to take into account. “Each technology has pros and cons. If necessary, multiple technologies may be chosen to create a higher level of security.”

Zanrosso suggested looking for features that will maximize detection probability. “Insist on a calibration function in system software to ensure uniform detection sensitivity at every point along the protected area — regardless of variations in fence fabric or site terrain.” She also recommended ensuring that the sensor technology effectively discerns between legitimate intrusion attempts and harmless environment disturbances to prevent nuisance alarms, as Southwest Microwave’s INTREPID technologies do through a unique feature known as Point Impact Discrimination.

“Buyers should also be aware of the history of the manufacturers they are choosing,” Weese advised. “The development of an effective outdoor sensor requires both experience to understand the conditions the sensors face and verification time to ensure the sensor performs in these conditions.”

Current trends in perimeter security
Technologically speaking, making technology easier to use is something tech companies are always striving for. The easier a system is to use, the more people will want to use it. This trend is one that carries over into perimeter security.

“One major technological trend is simplification,” Senstar’s Weese said. “Whereas security products used to be complex and specialized to install and manage, they are becoming more accessible and easier to use. This trend, combined with more competitive price points means that PIDS technology can be deployed in many more applications than the past.”

As part of this simplification process, Senstar has chosen to add a video analytic and management capability to its product portfolio. In fact, the company recently acquired Aimetis, a major player in the video management market. “This will allow Senstar to provide a solution which combines the benefits of a physical security sensor and video analytics in a package with a very high degree of integration,” Weese said.

In this same vein, Honeywell’s Ossareh noted there has been a shift toward holistic perimeter security systems, which combines several security elements to provide complete peace of mind for users. Ossareh used PIR detection as an example of this trend.

“Many installations now combine indoor and outdoor PIR technology, where external PIR technology is used as a ‘pre-warning’ to the internal system,” Ossareh explained. “The external PIR may trigger lights or sound, for example, as an initial deterrent and warning to the user. If the internal system is triggered after the external, then the user can be confident that the alert is real and take appropriate action.”

Importance of integration
Integration in video surveillance has become a necessity; in perimeter security, it is also important that sensor technologies can integrate with third-party solutions such as video management software (VMS) or PSIM applications.

“With the rise of cloud and connected technologies, there has been an increased demand for integrated, flexible security systems in homes and enterprises,” Ossareh said. “Incorporating video into a perimeter security system is a good example of a holistic, flexible system that provides significant end-user benefits. Adding a motion sensor to a video surveillance system can be a huge boost to enterprise productivity, as it means security staff do not have to spend all their time just monitoring the camera feeds. Instead in the event the sensor is triggered, staff can then use the integrated video surveillance to assess whether the incident is suspicious or not.”

It is also important to consider integration with all peripheral systems, not just video. While the integration of video is important for video verification, integration with other systems is necessary so the end user can get the maximum value from their investment.


“Verify the ability to tie in detection zones with camera presets for responsible visual assessment,” Southwest Microwave’s Zanrosso said. “If the site protection parameters call for the introduction of multiple detection technologies (such as using a fence sensor for the perimeter, with microwave sensors at gates and on rooftops), confirm these systems will network on a single communications platform.”

Where we go from here
Whatever it is that drives end users to deploy perimeter sensors, it is important to remember that the sensors are only one part of a larger perimeter security system. Seeking the help of expert, knowledgeable installers and integrators is the sure-fire way of ensuring that the sensors you choose are maximizing your security investment. 


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