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Security installation arms remote power plant with first virtual “iron dome”

Security installation arms remote power plant with first virtual “iron dome”
According to a National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee report, the top threat to the nation’s power grid is physical destruction.
According to a National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee report, the top threat to the nation’s power grid is physical destruction. Many of the 55,000 U.S. substations have some form of security, but are not able to deter, detect and communicate to the national standard. Recently Honeywell, SpotterRF Radar, security integrator 4PC and the Security Group of Burns & McDonnell designed a powerful solution for an electrical generation and transmission facility that features state-of-the-art generators in the nation.

Due to security concerns, the facility requested to remain anonymous but wanted to share the lessons learned to help protect other utilities across the U.S.

The situation
Protecting a wide range of differing assets requires a layered approach with a combination of scalable and sustainably integrated solutions. Typically, unmanned plants operate in secluded locations, and were configured for efficient power generation in mind rather than security. Chain link fences have become antiquated in a modern world of heightened access, leaving the sites vulnerable to attack. Today’s critical infrastructure must be fortified against not only intrusion via foot and road vehicles, but from drones as well. Following an attack on a substation in California in 2013, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) increased its security standards. When these standards are not met, noncompliance penalties can range up to $1 million per day.

The solution
The resulting installation integrates active surveillance with intelligent video analytics, video management, access control, and perimeter intrusion detection and fire. Honeywell’s Pro-Watch central management solution for intrusion and access control handles all alarms and system messages. Its ability to integrate seamlessly with all the security components used in the project made it the clear choice as the foundation for the installation. The MAXPRO VMS video management system offers operator-friendly video analytics, assessment and visual confirmation of alarms. Notifier fire panels were incorporated using the Honeywell Software Development Kit (HSDK), and HD IP video cameras with thermal capabilities provide full-color, detailed perspective of scenes in real-time. Map-based Vindicator touchscreen keypads strategically placed throughout the site offer instant assessment of the site’s secure status to guards and operators, and the Vindicator V3 Intrusion Detection System extends protection of the perimeter hundreds of meters past the fence line. This marks the first time this particular combination of Honeywell technologies has ever been deployed together as a full solution.

Honeywell collaborated with Utahbased SpotterRF, integrating their award-winning active radar technology with Honeywell’s V3 Intrusion Detection System for protection of the perimeter and beyond. The technology provides intelligent intrusion detection for advanced notification of threats, which frees up time for more effective response. With a range of 350 meters, the appliance blankets the surrounding 20 acres with complete coverage—while using less power than a 10 watt lightbulb. Integrated behavioral filters detect moving targets, automatically analyze behavior, and instantly cue cameras to that spot using GPS coordinates for pinpoint accuracy. Thermal capabilities of the HD cameras can determine if movement belongs to a live individual who might present a threat—or simply another of the mansized tumbleweeds that are routinely thrown against the fence by the wind.

The system also actively monitors the surrounding skies. And the use of thermal imaging along with the intelligent video analytics enables accurate visual detection 24/7—at night, in fog, during inclement weather, and even behind obstructions. Together, these components paint a powerful picture and create a virtual “iron dome” of protection over the site to detect, deny, and deter any unauthorized activity.

The benefits
The integrated solution includes access control, robust reporting to meet strict auditing regulations and constant monitoring of the perimeter surrounding the fence line and hundreds of meters beyond—to make it easy for the station to exceed requirements and establish best practices, possible future compliance requirements, and operations needs.

In addition to watching the horizon for security threats and providing an integrated solution to address them, the cameras keep an eye on operational activity in the engine house and the towers to make sure the generators and other mechanical equipment are functioning properly. Because the system can differentiate between human activity versus movement of animals or vegetation set in motion by the wind, the autonomous nature of the system slashes the number of false alarms, which reduces costs.

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