Remote Security Management for Unmanned Facilities

One of the most challenging scenarios for physical security professionals is unmanned facilities which require completely remote facilities management – and therefore remote security management. There are myriad facilities of this nature throughout the utility and industrial world including by not limited to:

Remote Security Management Typical Applications

  • Power Substations (Electricity, Oil, Gas and Nuclear)
  • Public Works Facilities (Water Systems and Wastewater Treatment)
  • Telecommunications and Cable TV substations and distribution boxes

These are examples of typically unmanned or lightly manned facilities that are remotely located from main offices, but often contain critical and expensive equipment assets. In addition to being critical or expensive, security of these remote facilities may be mandated by regulatory compliance or governance reasons. This makes their protection via remote security management both important AND challenging.

The best way of accomplishing the necessary level of remote security management for these vital assets is through a layered approach. The layers my vary depending upon how remote the facility is, whether it is lightly manned or unmanned and how sensitive or critical the facility and the assets it contains are to corporate operations. Below are a some of the “security layers” a company may consider for implementation:

Security Layers in Remote Security Management

Intrusion Alarms

Obviously with a remote, lightly manned or unmanned site alerting against intrusions is critical. These alarms come in many forms; again even within this security layers category, a sub-layered approach works best. So there may be different sensors that set off alarms (with alerts sent immediately to key security personnel) due to: entering a property, breaching a perimeter fence, unauthorized opening of an exterior door and unauthorized entry into the most sensitive, controlled rooms or closets.

Video Surveillance

An especially critical security layer for any type of important remote site or facility. Once again, depending upon the facility, both outdoor cameras and indoor cameras may be appropriate. The advent of inexpensive, wireless IP-connected cameras has made it much easier to deploy video surveillance devices widely throughout the exterior and interior of a remote facility or site.

Entry/Exit Management

Even with alarms on all external, internal and storage cabinet doors it remains important to have a sophisticated user access management system for remote security management. The threat of internal trusted resources doing damaging mischief is very real these days. So the ability to not only control access to those who are authorized, but to also have a detailed audit trail of who entered where and at what time, can be critical to conducting successful forensic investigations after a theft, vandalism or other improper activity.

Activation on Entry

Not only is it important to have intrusion alarms, video surveillance and sophisticated entry/exit management systems, but remote facilities present a special challenge for these systems. Because these facilities are often or always unmanned, it’s usually wise for the Video/CCTV system to be sensor-activated. Otherwise much bandwidth and storage could be wasted on large video streams with no important activity. In addition, having the video sensor-activated should provide efficiency to any subsequent forensic investigation. Likewise, the HVAC and Fire systems should also be activated by sensors to prevent facility and equipment harm and also to save energy on lights, air conditioning, etc when no personnel are present.

Business Continuity Via Redundant Remote Communications Methods

In mission-critical environments that demand continuous operation, redundancies of many types help protect important assets. This is especially important in remote facilities where operational personnel are usually not available to overcome issues. Security devices in remote and unmanned environments should support multiple communication paths to allow for network outages and any type of device failure. Redundancy ensures that critical alarms will always be received; if not at the main operations facility then they will be automatically transmitted to a remote disaster recovery location or on-call personnel.

False Alarm Reduction

Research shows that approximately 98% of alarms are falsely triggered. These unnecessary expenses can be reduced, for example, by integrating both video & audio technologies, which can lower risk as well as improve responsiveness. A  security solution which enables video to be intelligently linked to alarm events and automatically transmitted to a Security Operations Center can assist both with verification and false alarm dispatch prevention.

OpticalLock’s Opti-100 security device can play a significant role in the protection of remote facilities. The Opti-100 combines the functionality of a lock, security seal and wireless entry alarm all in one convenient, practical padlock form factor. The product included web-based management software for two way communications with the lock, enabling instantaneous alarms and alerts dispatched to Security Operations Centers and on-call personnel. It is ideal for providing a layer of protection for outdoor telecommunications repeaters and substations as well as lockers and storage cabinets containing high value goods and equipment. It can be deployed anywhere a common padlock can be used.

Please browse the OpticalLock website for more information on the product and a list of typical applications. Feel free to Contact us using the form if you’d like to ask specific questions. Leave a comment below or share this article with your facilities management and security management colleagues to further this discussion.

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