Use microwave for wireless CCTV
Use microwave for wireless CCTV

Feb 1, 1997 12:00 PM

Q. We have an integrated command and control security monitoring center on site and want to add closed-circuit television cameras from a remote location. We are unable to extend the present fiber optic links to accommodate the off-site cameras. What is a good alternative for bringing the signal back to the control center? Ron McKinnon Corporate Manager of Security Hutchinson Technology A Closed-circuit television cameras at remote locations can monitor assets while providing real-time video assessment. Unfortunately, remote sites present problems. Some initial considerations: How far away is the target area from the control center? Who owns the property or accessible right of way? What type of alarm response is available?

Today, satellite uplinks allow electronic news gathering (ENG) crews full duplex communications (similar to a telephone) instantly to television stations worldwide. But this state-of-the-art wireless technology is expensive, and access for commercial security applications 24 hours a day is out of the question - there are not enough available satellite video channels to go around. More traditional methods of communication must be considered until the enormous bandwidth requirements of real-time video can be overcome. While uniform computer standards using MMX video controllers are available, most corporations are forced to custom-design solutions or rely on products supplied by security industry manufacturers. If distance or lack of accessibility prohibits use of transmission methods such as wire cable and fiber optic, examine other methods. Telephone systems offering slow scan capabilities may be unacceptable due to degraded resolution and the lack of real-time assessment. If a scene being viewed allows for reduced sharpness and a picture refresh rate of a few seconds, this option may be cost-effective and acceptable.

Intrusion alarm and access control interfaces must be evaluated closely to determine suitability. Manufacturers improved this technology noticeably in the past few years, and more of these systems are being specified. Twisted-pair wire technology has been around for decades and still has advantages. Existing wiring from one building to another may share a common telephone system throughout a campus environment. There is usually a spare pair of wires not used in voice telephone communications. These wires may be used to transmit a video signal by installing an auxiliary transmitter in the camera location and a receiver at the control center. While great distances can be traveled (in excess of 25 kilometers have been achieved by Grundig in Germany), picture quality is a determining factor. This method is especially suited for retrofitting existing installations, but avoid routing the signal through a PBX which will modify the signal.

An alternative to hardwired methods is wireless transmission. Microwave is a common means of wireless CCTV communications. It allows multiple video signals to be transmitted, line of sight, with forward and reverse sub-carriers for telemetry control and alarm data functions. Distances of several miles can be achieved, but it can be expensive. Obstructions and weather can cause problems, and an FCC license may be required.

Laser links also provide for line-of-sight transmission but have been plagued with alignment and weather problems. However, they do not require FCC approval. Radio frequency (RF) carriers are a good alternative. Except for frequency modulation categories, RF carriers have been restricted to government and law enforcement agencies. However, industry-wide FCC acceptance is available within a specified frequency range, allowing for versatile applications. With the increase in available frequencies, the technology is becoming more widely accepted, and, when properly applied, minimal interference occurs. CCTV manufacturers offer configurations as versatile and reliable as hardwired systems.

Q. With the consolidation of Sandoz and Ciba, our security requirements have grown significantly. Company security policies have been revised, and new standards have been developed. A corporate-wide proprietary central station has been proposed, and efforts are under way to integrate existing security resources into the overall design, allowing multiple locations to be monitored from a new control center. What factors should be considered? Can assets from multiple locations be monitored effectively from a single source? How do we determine our threat and what other countermeasures should be implemented?

William B. Latenser Associate Director of Safety, Security and Environment Novartis Consumer Health Corporation

A In today's global society, a threat to American corporations exists. Dramatic events in recent history illustrate unparalleled security breaches. Threats to modern enterprise can be real or perceived; does it really matter which? If an environmental group perceives a corporation is a threat to the well-being of an ideology, then the threat to the corporation actually exists. Who should take the responsibility for this misguided perception? The security design team! Therefore, overall security designs should take into account the anticipated or perceived threat and the actual threat. These considerations may be as important as the integration of the equipment itself. The design and application of equipment could be misguided if you begin on the wrong premise.

So, where do you begin? You should start with a facility development plan (FDP), a document that acts as a blueprint for the project. The document includes a detailed threat assessment, risk analysis and impact statement. If these areas are not addressed, important factors may be overlooked. The threat assessment provides few answers, but merely asks questions that need to be addressed - the who, what, when, where, why, how often, what-if type of questions. Do not attempt to provide answers until all of the questions have been asked. The answers are only addressed after conducting a thorough risk analysis.

The what-if questions are answered in the impact statement: If someone were to take advantage of our weakness, what countermeasures are in place to detect, delay and deter the adversary? Countermeasures to consider include procedural, personnel, psychological, administrative and operational. Countermeasures are often easily implemented at little or no cost and can produce a substantial return on investment. They should be addressed prior to investing capital funds for additional equipment. Throwing money at a problem seldom resolves the issue; it merely masks the symptoms.

Signage is a powerful psychological deterrent, as are physical barriers. If a potential intruder perceives an area to be secure, he is less likely to attempt penetration. However, a fence does no more than mark the boundaries of a property and often attracts attention more than it deters intruders. Fence only the areas necessary to deter or delay access. Remember, fencing seldom stops an adversary; it often attracts. It can be an expensive solution with little or no return.

Often, physical barriers are positioned to intimidate. Gigantic physical barriers are outside federal buildings in the nation's Capitol. Do they prevent anyone from merely walking around them? No, but they imply that the facilities are extremely well protected. If physical barriers are to be applied as psychological, not physical, countermeasures, a sign could serve the same purpose at a substantial cost savings. Physical countermeasures should augment electronic equipment, computer information systems, and technical surveillance countermeasures.

Once the facility development plan has been completed, consider the integrated facilities protection systems (IFPS). The IFPS will determine what equipment to install, the appropriate application, when it should be accomplished, where it will be phased in, why it is necessary, and how often it must be maintained or replaced.

If these steps are followed, a requirements document using a functional synergistic basic design criteria will result. The document will eliminate potential problem areas, deal with how to resolve concerns and be the basis for the system's design specifications.

Editor's note: Last month's column related to a project with dissimilar equipment. Once the above guidelines have been addressed, following those recommendations will complete the process. This column draws on the expertise of the World Institute for Security Enhancement (WISE), Greensboro, N.C., a non-profit organization offering education and consultation to private industry and government agencies. Areas of concentration include safety, security, investigations and loss prevention.

This month's column is authored by G.F. Bryant Jr., executive director of the World Institute and president/CEO of Bryant and Associates, Greensboro, N.C. For information on WISE, circle no. 1 on the Reader Service Card

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