Securing perimeters of secure locations

November 2019 Government and Parastatal (Industry), Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection, Integrated Solutions

Protecting the perimeter of national key points is no simple task, but the layered approach makes it more manageable.

National key points (NKP) in Africa are not always known for their air-tight security even though the security of these locations is in the national interest. However, securing these locations is not a simple task and one area that is arguably the hardest to secure in any sizeable environment is the perimeter. It’s not only about raising an alarm to let security operators know that there is a problem (or potential problem), it’s about knowing there is a real breach of the perimeter, what it consists of and what the appropriate response is.

If you have an unlimited budget there are many solutions that will ensure you have constant sight over your targeted areas, but who has the luxury of an unlimited budget?

Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked a number of companies with specific perimeter security solutions for their answers to this challenge. And while perimeter security is not only restricted to NKP, we asked out interviewees to offer their insights specifically to these environments. The following people and companies responded to our enquiries:

Stuart Large from Fotech Solutions, a UK company that was recently in South Africa looking to expand its footprint in the region.

Jason de Freitas, new business development manager at Nemtek.

Andrew Mu, product marketing manager for Africa at Hikvision SA.

Cliff Rose, MD of Modular Communications.

Markus Bodenstein, key account manager at Axis Communications.

Shaun Williamson (managing director), Brian Wynberger (senior manager) and Maurice Williamson (chief executive officer) from Stafix (Ndlovu Fencing). All three contributed and their answers are collated under the ‘Stafix’ name.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What advice would you provide to a NKP with respect to ensuring their perimeter security? Are physical fences still a necessity with the technology available today?

Stuart Large.

Large: Technology is now available that allows for complete protection of long perimeters. Intrusions can be detected at the fence or wall with a simple cable buried in the ground and attempts to approach a perimeter can be detected long before the asset is reached. In some cases it will even be possible to eliminate the physical barrier altogether by timely recognition of an approaching threat, coupled with adequate response.

De Freitas: The electric fence is still the most cost effective solution and offers not just a barrier, but also an alarm and potential shock. Electric fencing has been designed to fit onto most barriers available in the market and thus makes the perimeter more secure.

Mu: For perimeter security, there are many different solutions, for example, security patrols, alarm beams, CCTV surveillance, etc. Each of these has a different impact. For example:

Security patrols require a high human cost, but generally offer low effectiveness.

Alarm beams are useful, but are often affected by high false alarm rates and offer no video playback during or after the event.

CCTV surveillance offers real-time alarms, supports video playback, and the rapid development of video analysis algorithms helps to reduce the false alarm rate.

So my advice is to use more CCTV surveillance solutions. All our perimeter technologies are not based on a physical fence, so I think physical fencing is simply one of the layers of protection.

Rose: Many years ago, when considering the need for securing a NKP, the general view was that protecting a site should take into account the special senses of a dog, these being sight, taste, smell and hearing. In addition, it should also have one additional dog feature, it should bite.

So, we can liken these to perimeter security solutions as follows:

Sight – CCTV fits this requirement in that we need to be able to view the perimeter.

Taste – we need to determine the type of threat. Many years ago the only way we could do this was to have personnel watching the perimeter with CCTV cameras to determine the nature of the threat visually.

Smell – is our ability to detect something out there approaching a NKP or attempting to gain access; a multitude of devices were available for this which may have included microwave detection systems and trip wires of some nature.

Listen – is another form of detection and years ago there were not many electronic options here that could successfully deal with this sense.

The special dog feature was bite, and electric fencing fulfilled this requirement. Electric fencing was the key component to the deterrent value of a security solution for NKPs, but let’s not forget the notorious ‘barbed wire’ as an added value.

Nowadays the threats to NKPs have evolved and the old methods are not nearly enough to protect NKPs against intrusion and sabotage. So too, electronics coupled with software solutions has evolved and new solutions are available to deal with these new threats.

Fencing technologies have certainly developed and offer a robust barrier to entry with various levels of tensile strength. Regardless, the fence in whatever form is required in order to determine and demarcate the perimeter line which an intruder should not cross. A fence line, however, is penetrable and needs to be complemented with other forms of detection in order to be an effective barrier. AcoustAlert vibration detection can be added to the physical fence layer in order to have an effective solution.

Markus Bodenstein.

Bodenstein: For a national key point, multiple layers of security are a necessity and essential to ensure a fully protected perimeter. Even though we can create virtual fence lines, and in some cases we are forced to do it, physical fences play a vital role in perimeter security. In essence, a physical fence still slows down the perpetrators, which allows the perimeter analytics to detect and identify accurately.

Stafix: As far as I’m concerned a physical barrier is still required. The strength of this barrier will be dictated by the levels potential intruders are prepared to go to to breach it. For example, at a prison we were fencing in Brazil, the drug lords simply drove an armoured vehicle straight through the fence and prison wall to release prisoners. So I do not think that any one perimeter solution, on its own, provides a complete answer to protecting NKPs. A number of systems complementing each other can ultimately provide a very secure solution. We should also remember that a physical barrier is needed to define boundaries and create a physical visual boundary to stop petty and opportunistic thieves.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What product, technology or solution would you recommend to be able to accurately identify where a perimeter breach occurs? Can the system also advise on what the breach is?

Large: Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) fibre-optic solutions, such as Fotech’s LiveDETECT, effectively turn a standard fibre-optic cable into a series of thousands of acoustic or vibrational sensors. A simple, discreet, fibre-optic cable mounted on a fence or wall is able to detect people attempting to climb over or cut through the barrier. Fibre cable buried underground can detect footsteps, vehicles, digging, tunnelling and other activities.

Artificial intelligence is applied to the data to automatically recognise the unique signature of each type of event within a few seconds, classify it and determine when to raise an alarm. The location of the threat is usually determined to within ten metres and can be displayed on a map or schematic of a facility to aid the right response.

De Freitas: Electric fencing today has integrated with network technology which allows multiple zones to be defined and then to support integrations with other third-party equipment, such as CCTV and alarm panels. We have also launched a digital tension sensor system which allows you to break the electric zones into more accurate sectors, as well as monitoring the movement of each wire.

Nemtek also created a more cost effective mechanical dual action tension sensor which monitors the movement of wires in the electric fence zone. This product has moved the goal post on perimeter protection as it can be retrofitted to most existing installations; this monitors the wire for separation, and if moved, triggers an alarm.

Cameras and lighting also play a role in deterring criminals and thus we have added an alarm light system which will illuminate the prescribed zone if there is an alarm condition. This can also be switched on via remote or via a day/night switch.

Mu: At Hikvision we have our own professional deep-learning algorithm for target classification. It can distinguish between humans, vehicles and other objects. For the vehicles, our algorithm can even determine the vehicle type.

Rose: CCTV cameras with video content analysis (VCA) is definitely the one layer that can address the requirement to detect impending breaches, determine the direction of the intruders, determine the type of intrusion and automatically signal an alarm condition and its nature.

Complementing this form of detection is the monitoring of activity or disturbances on the fence itself. Here acoustic or tribokinetic detection is possible and affordable to protect the fence itself and double as a detection method. Other forms of early warning include radar technologies, and these can be used on extremely high-security sites where the earliest possible detection of an intrusion is needed.

Electric fences still have their place, say in the sterile zone of a protected perimeter, although it can still be used for detection (cut or short circuit), plus it has a good deterrent value. Microwave barriers are also useful in detecting intruders in a no-go zone, but like electric fencing, you only know you have a problem when it is triggered without early warning.

All these systems can work in a layered approach to securing a perimeter and each technology has its advantages and weaknesses. If I were to recommend a solution for NKP protection it would include multiple layers of different technologies as well as one or more physical barriers in order to present reaction units with the longest possible delay from early detection to actual intrusion.

Software systems should manage all of these alarms in zones and sectors, and further trigger responses which may include visual beacons, lighting and audio sirens, or warning messages.

Bodenstein: Our analytics have progressed at a rapid pace over the past few years. Our ideal solution, which has been tried and tested, is to use thermal cameras with onboard analytics. This can be combined with audio as well as PTZ tracking to encompass a fully automated perimeter solution. It is also important to note, our analytics can differentiate between humans and vehicles. We always recommend testing the analytics on site, whether through a proof of concept or demonstration.

Stafix: Our latest JVA Energizer can partition and monitor a fence into 50 sectors and these sectors can be managed by our Perimeter Patrol System, which sends a 24-hour report of fence line conditions back to the control room or even to designated cellphones. The Perimeter Patrol can also trigger CCTV management systems and is fully integrated with Cathexis and Dahua management systems, thereby determining exactly what has caused the alarm condition (human, vehicle, fallen tree, vegetation, etc.).

Additionally, Dahua Technology has introduced a perimeter protection solution powered by artificial intelligence technology. This technology overcomes the challenges of traditional visual analytics, such as a high percentage rate of false triggering, high cost and influences of environment and adverse weather conditions. The solution works by only triggering on humans and vehicles, thus eliminating triggers of other objects such as trees blowing in the wind.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Following on from above, please describe what perimeter solutions you offer that would be suitable for a NKP?

Large: Fotech has invested more than 200 man-years in software development. This is key to our ability to not only recognise real threats and be able to raise a meaningful alarm, but to also discriminate these from irrelevant events such as rainfall or wind, which could otherwise trigger a false alarm. One Fotech LiveDETECT system can monitor up to 100 kilometres of sensing cable, which would be 50 kilometres in two directions. Multiple systems can be networked together to cover potentially thousands of kilometres of an asset (such as an international border).

Over this range a variety of environmental conditions may be encountered and, in particular, the soil conditions may vary. Fotech engineers will therefore spend time commissioning the system and testing it so they can set the best detection parameters for each situation along the route. Fotech can also advise on the choice of sensing cable, how to deploy it and how to prepare a fence for the best sensitivity.

Mu: We have various solutions available for different locations and use cases. Acusense is an entry level intelligent system which supports target classification. We suggest it is used for smaller perimeter protection projects. The advantage is it reduces false alarms, and overcomes issues like leaves shaking, light changing or animals triggering a false alarm.

The DeepInmind solution has better hardware performance, so the effect of false alarm reduction will be much better. I suggest it should be used for more important scenes, for example, parliament buildings, etc.

Both of the above solutions cannot overcome the problem of monitoring over long distances; the recommendation is less than 50 metres.

Thermal solutions include the advantages of the above two solutions, and add other advantages. One is better environmental adaptability in that you still have a high alarm accuracy rate even in poor lighting conditions, such as backlighting, reflections, darkness, etc. The other advantage is distance. The maximum distance of Hikvision’s thermal solution can extend to 1 km.

Rose: Modular specialises in CCTV solutions which include VCA to detect and verify possible intrusions in a layered approach, coupled to fencing solutions and acoustic fence detection systems that work in conjunction with other technologies to create a cost effective solution. We have software solutions that can manage the various layers of security, automate responses, display alarms visually in a graphical format on a video monitor for a local response unit and signal back to our control room for off-site management and support.

Bodenstein: Our perimeter solution for a NKP consists of:

Thermal cameras – Q1941-E.

Axis Perimeter Defender.

Axis IR PTZ – Q6125-LE.

Axis Horn speaker – C3003-E.

Axis RADAR D2050-VE.

The thermal cameras will be used on the fence line with our analytics. Once the analytic triggers, the PTZ can automatically zoom in and investigate the area. In response, the horn speaker can trigger with an automated message or with push-to-talk from the control room. In certain areas, depending on the environment, we will also add radar technology as an additional layer of security.

As mentioned before, it is always important to test these solutions before deploying them. Manufacturers sometimes make very bold statements and claims on the distance their analytics can cover, however, many times the result is an end-user dealing with a large number of false alarms daily. Our analytics have been tried and tested, and end-users have always testified to the extremely low false alarm rate.

Stafix: JVA has a wide range of energizers and monitoring systems. The systems can be tailored to match fence geographic regions (coastal/inland), wire resistance (stainless steel/aluminium/galvanised), population accessibility (low voltage/taught wire/barrier), length (energiser size and network configuration) and the required integration into JVA local software, cloud or external management system.

The systems we offer range from high-voltage to low-voltage sectorised monitoring systems, solving some of the specification challenges of the new electric fencing laws (i.e., low-voltage monitoring below 1,5 m off the ground, combined with high-voltage monitoring above 1,5 m. We also offer taught wire monitoring.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Are your solutions able to integrate with other solutions to create complete security solutions?

Large: Usually a complete security solution requires the integration of more than one sensing technology. LiveDETECT is able to integrate with other solutions such as cameras and drones. In fact, these systems become far more effective when directed by the LiveDETECT system.

On our border projects, for example, a fibre buried along the line of the border is used to detect people walking across forbidden terrain. Within seconds their position is communicated to the camera system, which is then able to select the nearest camera and instruct it to face the precise location of the threat and capture video footage. In a large-scale perimeter protection project, coordinates can be sent to a drone flight management system, so that a drone automatically takes off, flies to the location of concern and focuses visual and thermal cameras on the activities that have been detected.

In both cases, this far more directed approach means that the security team resources are used more efficiently and with precision, making it more likely they will identify and prevent the criminal activity.

De Freitas: The Nemtek Druid network solution can be integrated via network relays and triggers to other electronic devices, and we also have our own graphical interface. There are also other options for third-party integration, like Cathexis or Milestone, to name only two. This is a higher-level integration and allows multiple electronic devices to communicate to one software platform, thus making the system almost seamless.

Mu: All Hikvision products are based on an open platform. They are easy to integrate with third-party solutions via the SDK (software development kit).

Rose: We can integrate various technologies onto one platform through standard commercially available VMS and access packages, dependent on the customer preference and requirements. Our own Site Manager AcoustAlert front-end software is suited to commercial sites while other offerings from Dallmeier with other third-party integrations enable us to offer solutions for the most demanding key point installations.

Bodenstein: Our solution is easily integrated into existing infrastructure, e.g. electric fence, access control, lighting, etc. All these elements form part of a holistic solution to ensure the perimeter is secure. The communication protocol on our devices makes it easy to communicate with other devices or software on the network, which means integration is seamless, and you can tailor the solution to fit your existing infrastructure and needs.

Stafix: Any security product manufacturer today needs to be able to integrate via relays or software into other systems. No manufacturer or brand can cover all layers of security and needs to be able to communicate and work with other manufacturers. All JVA products, besides having their own management software, can integrate with other products and management systems such as Cathexis.

JVA Perimeter Patrol software adds PC connectivity, communications and control to a security electric fence by being able to check that the fence is working from anywhere in the world. Perimeter Patrol runs on a standard Windows PC connected to JVA Security Electric Fence Energizers via RS-232, RS-485 or TCP/IP Ethernet adaptors. Perimeter Patrol, in turn, integrates into the CathexisVision video surveillance management software where information is used to trigger events. Information from the fence system for a specific zone will include arm state, fence alarm, tamper, ground alarm, low or bad battery, fault and AC fail. CathexVision will, in turn, have cameras connected and be able to give visual verification of a sector. Alternatively, a PTZ can be triggered to concentrate on that sector of the fence. This solution has been successfully integrated with specific Dahua cameras pertinent to perimeter protection solutions.

For more information contact:

• Axis Communications, +27 11 548 6780,,

• Fotech Solutions, Stuart Large, +44 1252 560 570,,

• Hikvision South Africa, +27 87 701 8113,,

• Modular Communications SA, +27 41 364 2653,,

• Nemtek, Jason de Freitas, +27 11 462 8283,

• Stafix Electric Fence Centres, +27 33 342 6727,,


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