The Top 6 Hurdles of Protecting Large Perimeters and How Radars Overcome Them

Protecting large perimeters is a critical aspect of security for many organizations.
July 8, 2024 by
Spotter Global, Jamie Mortensen

Security experts understand, perhaps better than most people in the world, that “more” isn’t always “easier”. When it comes to security concerns, it can be quite the opposite. 

Protecting large perimeters is a critical aspect of security for many organizations and facilities, including military bases, industrial complexes, airports, and government buildings. Large perimeters, sometimes stretching over multiple miles, present unique challenges for which many traditional surveillance measures, including regular security guard patrols and security cameras, have often proven inadequate. 

There’s just too much ground to cover. There are simply too many points along the perimeter where an attempted breach could be made. Keeping a real-time eye on every meter of an expansive perimeter is no easy feat. 

Modern perimeters dealing with fast, modern threats require specialized security solutions to ensure the safety and security of the people and assets within the protected area. In this article, we will explore the various hurdles and challenges associated with protecting large perimeters, as well as how compact surveillance radar can help overcome those challenges. 

Understanding the Challenges of Large Perimeter Protection

Large perimeter protection presents a number of challenges that are not typically encountered in smaller, more contained security environments. 

The first and most obvious challenge is the sheer size of the perimeter, which can span several miles and encompass a wide variety of terrain and landscape features. Hiring enough security personnel to keep a constant, in-person eye on such a large perimeter is impractical. A smaller security team working through numerous security cameras and a unifying video management system is usually the next step. However, if the perimeter is large enough, the cost of enough fixed cameras to cover the entire perimeter in addition to the cost of enough security personnel to manage such an expansive system may still be prohibitive. 

Additionally, property owners must consider the many low light hours, as well as rain, fog, snow, dust, or other obscuring conditions that may restrict security camera efficiency. 

When the contents of a property are valuable or vital enough, even short lapses in perimeter security can prove disastrous. A few minutes of fog could provide cover to an intruder who, if they get inside the perimeter or even just “close enough” to the perimeter, could do immense amounts of damage in under a minute (for reference see the Metcalf substation incident of 2013). Unfortunately, many large perimeters due to their size and frequent obscuring conditions have limited visibility and monitoring capabilities, making it difficult to detect and respond to security threats in a timely manner. 

Other obstacles include the high cost of security infrastructure, the challenges of managing access control and entry points, dealing with wildlife and environmental factors, integrating security systems and technologies, and addressing human error and security breaches. All these factors must be considered when developing a comprehensive security strategy for large properties.

Hurdle 1: Limited Visibility and Monitoring

One of the most concerning challenges in protecting large perimeters is the challenge of perimeter visibility. Small sites are more likely to have facility lighting or perhaps neighborhood lighting illuminating the perimeter and the area surrounding the property. Large site perimeters, however, are far more likely to be left “in the dark” each evening. This, in addition to occasional obscuring weather conditions and the sheer amount of real-time surveillance data generated to cover a miles-long perimeter can make detecting and responding to security threats in a timely manner extremely difficult. 

Many cameras and other security sensors suffer in performance in low-light conditions. Such limited visibility and monitoring can make it easier for intruders to breach the perimeter undetected, where, once inside, they can pose a significant security risk to the facility operations, facility personnel, or organization.

While several perimeter surveillance technologies can provide enhanced visibility and monitoring capabilities, such as thermal imaging cameras, drones, and satellite monitoring systems, many of them can still suffer in performance due to environmental interference, including glare, dust storms, or snow storms. Compact surveillance radar, however, offers several distinct advantages that put it ahead of these technologies in terms of obscurant-resistant constant monitoring.

Rather than relying on visible light or infrared signals, radars work off of radio signals. The use of these longer wave-length signals allows the radar’s monitoring capabilities to continue, unimpeded, through low light conditions, obscuring conditions, and even light barriers of foliage. 

Spotter Global radars in particular use seventeen different radar-driven tracking metrics. These metrics allow the radar to track and AI classify targets, differentiating between humans, vehicles, and other types of targets, through a wide range of weather conditions including snow, fog, and dust storms. 

These enhanced monitoring capabilities, especially when paired with radar’s other security-enhancing features, make it an excellent choice for large perimeter properties that struggle with issues of limited visibility. 

Hurdle 2: Difficult Terrain and Landscape

Large perimeters, especially those surrounding rural critical infrastructure sites, can encompass a wide variety of terrain, including rugged mountains, dense forests, and expansive bodies of water. Securing large perimeters on or near diverse and challenging terrain can be a daunting task, requiring security solutions and infrastructure that can adapt to the unique environment.

Spotter compact surveillance radars, by virtue of their small size, flexibility, and advanced software features, are particularly well-suited to the task of unique, site-customized security designs covering diverse terrains. 

Firstly, radars can easily be positioned and repositioned to cover diverse landscape features. Oriented in the typical fashion, they can track targets approaching through low hills, over water, or through certain foliage densities, oriented sideways they can cover the tall corridors between double-fence systems, and mounted high they can monitor steep elevation changes. By being so flexible, radars can work harmoniously with any physical barriers, such as fences and walls, or natural barriers, such as water features and dense vegetation, already in place on a property.  

Secondly, radars can be set up to monitor the surrounding area in customized ways through alarm zones. These dedicated areas within the radars’ field of coverage can be customized according to the site’s geography and preprogrammed to trigger specific security responses when intruded upon. Such zones can also be set to only track specific target types, turn on or off according to set schedules, and trigger specific deterrence measures. Such radar-enabled alarm systems will recognize a ship approaching from a kilometer away, a hiker who has left the nearby path 400 m away, and a deer grazing on the hill 300 m north, and respond appropriately to each detection. Site-customized alarm zones made possible by radar ensure difficult and variable landscapes don’t have to compromise the perimeter security of large properties.

Hurdle 3: High Cost of Security Infrastructure

The high cost of security infrastructure is another significant challenge in protecting large perimeters. Securing a perimeter that spans several miles requires a substantial investment in security infrastructure, including fences, barriers, surveillance cameras, and access control systems. The cost of implementing and maintaining such infrastructure can be taxing for many organizations, particularly those with limited budgets.

Budgetary constraints are just one more reason to be intentional, effective, and precise in security design. The value within a site, its layout, risk factors, and more ought all to be thoroughly considered to create a site-customized security plan. 

To help the budget go as far as it needs to, security integrators and their customers often prioritize security solutions with strong integration capabilities, low infrastructure and installation requirements, and strong reputations for long-term reliability. 

Compact surveillance radar has many features that make it more budget-friendly than other perimeter security options. Spotter compact radars are small, light, and can easily be mounted on pre-existing infrastructure within a site. They integrate extremely well with other perimeter security measures and can even reduce the number of cameras needed to maintain situational awareness on a perimeter. In some cases, a single radar can replace up to twenty fixed-direction security cameras. Finally, once installed, compact surveillance radars require very little maintenance and can run continuous surveillance for years without failing. 

To make the most of their budgets, security decision-makers should also consider what potential allies are available to them. Organizations and properties can often leverage partnerships and collaborations with other entities, such as neighboring facilities or government agencies, to share the cost of security infrastructure and resources.

Hurdle 4: Dealing with Wildlife and Environmental Factors

As wildlife populations and weather patterns vary, not just from place to place but from year to year, securing large perimeters against the potential hazards presented by wildlife and environmental factors can be a dynamic, ongoing challenge. 

Animals can set off nuisance alarms, endanger personnel, or, in some cases, can damage or obstruct access to property assets. As for environmental factors, fairly common weather conditions can bring up rain, fog, snow, or dust that obscures the view of certain perimeter intrusion detection systems, making it easier for potential intruders to sneak onto a site or launch a long distance physical assault, typically either with firearms or drones. 

To address these challenges, organizations can implement specialized wildlife management and environmental monitoring programs to identify and mitigate the security risks wildlife and natural hazards pose to a specific site. Spotter Global compact surveillance radars, in addition to detecting perimeter intrusions, come equipped with AI filters that allow them to recognize and remotely dismiss nuisance alarms caused by local wildlife and other nuisances, from raccoons to timed sprinkler systems. The AI filtering is done through on-site training unique to the property’s environment, making it all the more effective in detecting and dismissing nuisance alarms caused by local wildlife. This reduction of nuisance alarms can help properties save money and keep security focused on its primary concern, potential human threats. 

As for combating environmental conditions, Spotter Global radars, in addition to detecting targets through fog, snow, and other obscuring conditions, are ruggedized to withstand extreme temperatures and water damage (standard IP67). This allows Spotter radars to be used for reliable perimeter security as well as avalanche detection and other specialized uses involving challenging environmental factors. 

Hurdle 5: Integrating Security Systems and Technologies

Integrating security systems and technologies is a critical aspect of protecting large perimeters, as it allows for a more comprehensive and unified security strategy. However, integrating disparate security systems and technologies can be a complex and challenging task, requiring industry expertise and adequate resources to ensure seamless integration and interoperability.

Spotter Global Compact surveillance radars possess excellent integration capacities with many security vendor products, including industry-leading PTZ cameras, VMS systems, and more. Additionally, Spotter Global offers an enterprise-level management system called the Integrated Management Center or IMC. This system allows security managers to remotely monitor the health and alarm histories of all of their Spotter radar on all their sites. This makes the remote oversight of dozens of properties, large and small, easy. This enterprise management tool allows remote security managers to catch equipment failures quickly and generate reports that prove compliance with industry and government regulations. 

To take integration a step further, the use of open-architecture systems, APIs, and standardized protocols can facilitate the seamless integration of disparate security technologies, allowing for an even more cohesive and effective security strategy for crucial sites. Spotter Global’s API integration option, for example, has allowed hyperspike technology to be incorporated into over-water alarm zones around dams, protecting critical infrastructure against security threats long before they get close enough to do damage. 

By implementing advanced security management platforms and integration tools, organizations maximize the efficiency of their perimeter security systems.

Hurdle 6: Addressing Human Error

Addressing human error and security breaches is a critical aspect of protecting large perimeters, as even the most advanced security systems and technologies can be compromised by human error or malicious intent. To address this challenge, organizations are encouraged to implement comprehensive training and awareness programs for security personnel, as well as maintain strict access control and oversight protocols to prevent unauthorized access and other security compromises. 

Oversight systems, like Spotter Global’s IMC, can help security managers stay on top of any equipment failures and communication lapses that may occur as a result of human error or malicious intent. 

Overcoming the Hurdles: Best Practices and Solutions for Large Perimeter Protection

In conclusion, protecting large perimeters presents a number of unique challenges, the balancing of multiple factors, industry expertise, and carefully chosen security solutions to overcome. By understanding and addressing the various hurdles associated with large perimeter protection, organizations can implement best practices and solutions to ensure the safety and security of their people and assets within the protected area.

From addressing limited visibility and monitoring capabilities to managing access control and entry points, and dealing with wildlife and environmental factors, organizations can combine reliable security design principles and advanced technologies, such as Spotter compact surveillance radars, to develop comprehensive security strategies customized to the specific needs of large perimeter properties. By implementing cost-effective solutions, integrating security systems and technologies, and proactively addressing the risk of human error, organizations can maximize their chances of success in both perimeter protection and overall site security, ensuring the integrity and security of their property for many years to come. 

Spotter Global, Jamie Mortensen July 8, 2024
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