At airports and other critical sites, people are expected to prove their identity at fences or gates before entering. But not everyone adheres to rules, with intrusion incidents requiring a critical look at traditional security solutions.
London's Stansted Airport got an early wake-up call at 3:15 a.m. on Dec. 8, 2008, when more than 50 environmental campaigners breached its perimeter. Carrying fortified fencing, they camped on the runway until the authorities removed them.
This brought the airport to a standstill, to the inconvenience of travelers and at significant cost to the airlines. The incident highlighted that traditional reliance upon physical barriers, security patrols and manned video monitoring is inadequate to counter threats from determined intruders.
Perimeter security is meant to demarcate boundaries and secure assets from theft, such as deterring someone getting in, stealing something and getting out again undetected. However, the intruder threat today is of a different magnitude. The terrorist, eco or otherwise, is unconcerned about detection and escape. Instead, the aim is to cause as much damage and disruption as possible.
This threat requires a different approach to security and a different risk assessment. To avoid this, better warning solutions can deliver earlier detection and allow more time for a corresponding reaction. This calls for more sophisticated sensor technology in integrated solutions, including existing perimeter solutions.
Intruder Head Count
Fence mounted sensing or buried cable perimeter detection only detects and locates an actual breach of the perimeter. In the dark at 3 a.m., this information is limited. The more pressing issue is knowing how many intruders have entered the property and where are they heading.
To understand this, users need a wide-area situation awareness system to detect and track the intruders. This is where radar technology comes into the equation.
Navtech Radar has developed a solution which can be retrofitted to direct cameras to whatever incident has been flagged. At the heart of the system is a high frequency and low power radar. Based on the same technology as automotive cruise control, the solution is safe and non-interfering with other electronic devices. Radar operates in all weather and light conditions.
While the radar scans in 360 degrees, the operator can designate detection zones, so only areas of interest are covered. A zone may cover an area outside the perimeter, allowing radar inside the perimeter to detect approaching intruders. When an incident occurs, the radar will detect and track any person or vehicle in its zones, while directing cameras to follow the intruder and produce a visual image. Unlike other systems, the radar can track multiple intruders, controlling up to five cameras.
The control room display is an aerial map, showing intruder tracks in real time. It provides the accurate location, direction and speed of each intruder together with real-time video. This enables fast direction of manned patrols to where a breach is in process. No longer can the operator be accused of not concentrating and never again will the camera be pointed away from incidents.
Why This Matters
For the Stansted incident, even if radar-activated surveillance had alerted airport security, the airport may not have had the resources to prevent it in time. Nevertheless, early and accurate information about the number, direction and speed of the intruders with real-time video would have helped airport staff limit the disruption.
The critical issue, however, is the risk of a dangerous terrorist or militant ecoterrorist entering with nonviolent protesters and using their activity as a diversion. Potential situations could involve a fanatic racing across the airfield with an incendiary device. With radar-activated surveillance, the security operator will see this attack, know a rogue intruder is heading for high-risk areas and be able to direct the security response to apprehend the intruder.