High-security for the mining industry

May 2003 Integrated Solutions

Mining is a high-risk business; one of the few industries in which day to day security issues have a direct and significant impact on bottom line profits. As a result, needs tend to drive innovation in the field of security related technology.

The job of the security officer is a difficult one. From monitoring access and presenting a professional face at the door, to the observation of problem personnel and handling of security breaches - there really is no time for dealing with inefficient systems. What is required is simplicity; integrated monitoring of all process, security and automation systems.

Total control

Access control, intrusion alarms. Surveillance, fire detection, fire suppression, personnel monitoring, event recording - all of these need to communicate in order to ensure total control over assets. To achieve this, the following basic elements need to be put in place:

* Integrated access control and intrusion detection.

* Effective surveillance of process, automation and security systems, with compact, easily retrievable recording.

* Effective, reliable transportation of surveillance and other security data.

* An integrated management interface, from which operators are able to monitor and control all aspects of security - and ideally, other building management issues such as fire detection and management.

Answering the need

Companies such as Siemens Electronic Security Solutions have built up the expertise to deliver this type of complex solution. After 22 years of operation in the African market, with specific emphasis on the platinum, gold and diamond industries, key innovations delivered over the past few years have included a locally developed CCTV matrix, optical transport networks (capable of delivering voice, data and process data on a single network backbone), a graphical management interface, incorporating all aspects of building management, including fire and security - and most recently, a biometric reader unit capable of operating in harsh industrial conditions.

Card-based access control is a popular and convenient security method that has found widespread usage in corporate and industrial environments the world over. Unfortunately, however, this technology does present one inescapable disadvantage: how does one ensure that the person holding the card is really who they claim to be?

Card-based fingerprint template recognition helps overcome these concerns by providing an irrefutable means of ensuring that the identity held on the access card - and the identity of the person using it - are one and the same. This is done via a deceptively simple fingerprint template matching operation.

Process, voice, data and security on a single integrated network

Organisations today have complex, heavyweight information and communication requirements. Voice data and telephony. Access control and the tracking of people and cars. Environmental monitoring. Recording, storage and distribution of high-quality digital images. And all of it available via both wired and wireless interfaces. Many organisations spend disproportionate effort simply trying to integrate it all; to make sense of a hornet's nest of disparate networks and systems, trying to maintain availability and connectivity.

Networks such as optical transport networks make it simple again. OTN is a flexible private communication network based on fibre-optic technology. It allows organisations to integrate and manage all systems and tools (including PABX, PLC, CCTV and LAN) on a single network, with exceptional speed and efficiency, as well as a high availability. OTN supports all types of communication services, including data transport from automation and process control systems - it even allows for the transmission and switching of high-quality video signals, so as to allow operators in the control room to view the different mining facilities (excavators, shafts, moving vehicles) in realtime.

Knowing what is known

A final key innovation in the field of security technology for the mining industry is the complete integration of security data - with reporting interfaces that are able to assist strategic decision-makers in their work.

As can well be imagined, automated access control and intrusion detection systems contain a wealth of data regarding the movement of people and assets, particularly when combined with an effective surveillance application (which might be in use to monitor either people or processes). Sadly, this data frequently becomes useless due to sheer volume - a classic case of information overload.

It was for this reason that Siemens decided to construct ISMIS - its own integrated security management information system - an analysis and reporting tool that makes use of data gathered by building management and CCTV systems in order to monitor and identify trends, whilst producing accurate and well-formatted reports and graphs. All information is available in realtime.

As a result, managers and strategic planners are able to formulate factual intelligence regarding the movement of people and assets - as well as the efficacy of processes - and to plan and make decisions accordingly.

For more information contact Sharon Naudé, Siemens ESS, 011 652 2000.

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