Enhancing Physical Substation Security Via Intelligent Video


Electric utility substation security is of paramount importance, as substations tend to be more vulnerable to physical attacks than other parts of the power grid.  However, securing these facilities is often easier said than done, because it can be expensive.  One viable, cost effective solution is the use of intelligent, real time surveillance video.

How Video Promotes Physical Substation Security

Intelligent video is relatively cheap, provides instant visual confirmation of an intruder or similar event, and helps enable post-event diagnostics.  Further, the presence of surveillance cameras can serve as a deterrent to malicious intrusion or behavior.  The technology also complies with NERC’s CIP-014 mandate, which requires the deployment of security plans designed to deter, detect, delay, assess, communicate, coordinate and respond to potential physical threats and vulnerabilities.

The technology is typically positioned in a way that monitors the perimeter of the facility and triggers an alarm when a breach is detected, and often comes with algorithms that can send text or email alerts when pre-defined conditions are met.  The algorithms can also classify breaches by type (vehicle vs. human intruder, trespassing vs. throwing a projectile, etc.), and can measure things like target size, speed of movement, and direction of movement.  Some systems also automatically follow targets once identified, allowing security personnel the freedom to do other things, like contact law enforcement, to expedite the response.

For a detailed case study on intelligent video for substation security, check out this article from puretechsystems.com.

The bottom line is that because substations are usually unmanned, they are prime candidates for terrorism and other heinous acts, and therefore real time remote monitoring is critical.  I hope an increasing number of facilities will deploy this type of technology going forward.  It seems like an excellent way to enhance substation security, which in turn can help reduce the frequency of these facilities going offline and causing power outages.

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