Designing Maximum Security Video Surveillance

Author: John Honovich, Published on Apr 20, 2009

Maximum security facilities have far different requirements for video surveillance than typical commercial use. In a maximum security facility, like a nuclear power plant or prison, adversaries must be stopped on-site and in progress. This is far different than typical commercial deployments where investigations are the most common use and detering intruders is a key value.

Design Philosophy of Maximum Level Security Facilities

For maximum level security, systems must be designed to stop adversaries before they reach critical assets (see the classic text on maximum level security). To meet this goal, technology, procedures and people are organized for rapid detecton and response. Video surveillance is used to support 3 goals:

  • Identifying a threat as soon as possible (e.g., perimeter video analytics)
  • Tracking the movements of an adversary (e.g., cameras throughout a facility)
  • Coordinating a real-time response (e.g., VMS software and PSIM)

Of course, video surveillance cannot be used alone. Barriers must be employed (fences, doors, gates, etc.) to slow the movements of adversaries. Guards must be able to respond quickly. Indeed, guards must be able to respond in less time than it takes to identify the threat and for the adversaries to pass the barriers.

When done correctly, some deterence is gained because adversaries may realize the low probability of success and investigations may be unecessary because attacks are either averted or stopped in progress.

Indetifying a Threat

Using video surveillance to identify threats is a relatively new approach to maximum level security system design. The most common historical approach is to use sentries (i.e., guards) or electronic/mechanical systems (like leaky coax, fiber optics, pressure sensors). In the last decade, using video surveillance cameras with video analytics has become a third major option. The benefits of using video surveillance cameras is that they provide identification and verification in a single device. The drawbacks of video analytics is the accuracy (though all of these devices have certain weaknesses in various environmental conditions or intrusion scenarios).

For any identification tool, the goal is to place the sensors as far out as possible and with barriers in between to maximize the time to review and respond to the identification.

Tracking the Movements of an Adversary

Once an intrusion is detected, in a maximum security facility, guards must be able to track exactly where the adversary is moving. This is critical because the goal of such systems is to stop the adversary before they complete their task.

Video surveillance cameras are deployed throughout the facility to enable the guard to track the suspect. In large areas, controllable PTZ cameras will be used so that the guard can move the camera to follow the adversary. These cameras are often supplemented with fixed cameras with a wide area view to help the guard locate the general position of the adversary.

Co-ordinating a Real-Time Response

Since speed is critical, a variety of software systems are often used to help the guard immediately track and not lose the adversary.
  • 2D and 3D Mapping systems that embed the locations of cameras can help the guard determine where a suspect is and where they might be headed
  • PDAs/Phones with video monitoring applications can be used to help the on-foot responders locate and track the adversary
  • Physical Security Information Management systems can be used to coordinate response and trigger other systems (like locking doors or turning on lights).
The faster and more likely security can respond to an adversary, the higher the probability of defeating the intrusion. Software can eliminate risk and reduce time.

Designing Systems

Maximum level security facilities must integrate a variety of technologies into a coherent system that facilitates early identification, lengthy delays and rapid responses.

On the other hand, most organizations do not need and likely cannot afford designing this type of system. However, appreciating and using these principles in any design can help clarify and focus the use of video surveillance technologies to better secure facilities.

Related Reports

Camio Natural Language Processing Tested on Sep 27, 2016
The ex-Googler led team from Camio has advanced its video monitoring offering to include natural language processing. Camio ingests video,...
Nest Cam Outdoor Tested - Analytics Strong, Installation Weak on Sep 23, 2016
After years of claiming an outdoor model was "coming", addressing their biggest user demand, Nest has finally released their Outdoor Camera, an...
You Get Robbed, Canary Will Pay You Up To $1,000 on Sep 22, 2016
Canary is trying to break the status quo in DIY security, first by raising over $40 million, and now a revamp of their monthly services package...
History of Video Surveillance on Sep 22, 2016
This is a concise history of video surveillance covering the past decade.  The goal is to help professionals newer to the industry understand...
Directory Of 67 Video Analytics Suppliers on Aug 22, 2016
This directory provides a list of video analytics providers to help you see and research what options are available. [premium_content] Video...
Bosch Intrusion Detection Profile on Aug 10, 2016
This is a first in a new IPVM series profiling intrusion detection / alarm offerings. In this series, starting with Bosch, we examine: Key...
Intrusion Sensor Selection guide on Jul 21, 2016
When designing intrusion systems, a number of sensor types can be selected, including: Magnetic Acceleromteter Glass Break PE/PIR/Laser...
Logipix 20MP, 140MP and 200MP Cameras Examined on Jul 20, 2016
Looking for an Avigilon alternative? Logipix, based in Hungary, has created their own super high resolution end-to-end solution, featuring 20MP -...
Hikvision Nvidia Supercomputing Partnership on Jul 18, 2016
Hikvision is gearing up its supercomputing efforts. Partnering with Nvidia, one of the US' largest tech companies, doing $5 billion revenue...
US Government Agency Highlights Analytics Failure on Jul 15, 2016
Count the US government among those not satisfied with video analytics. A US government agency held a workshop on video analytics for public...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Arecont To Release Industries' Best H.265 Support on Sep 30, 2016
Go big, or go home. That seems to be Arecont's philosophy for H.265, they say they are working on the "best" H.265 implementation in the...
Wall Street Journal Runs Report on Dahua Hack on Sep 30, 2016
The Wall Street Journal is bringing attention to the massive Dahua attack we reported on Tuesday. In an Thursday article entitled, "Hackers Infect...
Dahua USA CEO Tim Wang, Where Is Your Integrity? on Sep 29, 2016
Dahua USA CEO Tim Wang and Dahua Director of Marketing Tim Shen shared their IPVM passwords extensively, resulting in Dahua USA CEO's account...
Allegion NDE Wireless Lock Examined on Sep 29, 2016
While wireless locks are one of the hottest areas of access control, two of its biggest challenges are high cost and limited integration with...
The 'Last Chance to Save' On Hikvision Is Here on Sep 29, 2016
It is over. After at least 8 across the board price cuts in the past 10 months, including an unprecedented back to back 20% off, Hikvision has...
Camera Calculator Class and IPVM Member Orientation October 2016 on Sep 28, 2016
Members, learn how to better design video surveillance systems and get the most out of your IPVM memberships with 2 upcoming live classes. Both...
Axis 4MP Camera Tested (M3046-V) on Sep 28, 2016
Axis has brought 4MP to its camera line in the new M3046-V, the highest resolution model in their revamped M30 series. We bought and tested this...
Hiring Spree At Aimetis 6 Months After Being Acquired on Sep 28, 2016
Aimetis was acquired in April 2016, and is now expanding almost all of their departments, hiring employees from Axis and other industry...
Hikvision Chairman Tours With Chinese Government Boss on Sep 28, 2016
Two China Communist senior officials toured Europe this summer, one was Hikvision's Chairman and the other was his boss, SASAC Director. In this...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact