Border Protection & Homeland Security
All across the United States our Homeland Security initiative is making an impact. One way this impact has been observed has been through a rapid and extensive increase in the deployment of surveillance cameras. Properly and strategically deployed cameras are the first line of defense in border, utility, business and transportation security applications. Cameras strategically located around the perimeter of the respective facility or border crossing provide the security team with an ability to identify potential threats before the perimeter is breached. The ability to see what's coming at you, from where and with what, certainly gives any responding security team a strategic advantage in stopping the threat before it becomes realized. It is always better to stop a breach prior to or during its occurrence rather than simply clean up afterwards, and only use the cameras to identify the perpetrators after the fact. With this concept in mind, three key factors must be considered in the deployment of perimeter surveillance cameras: mounting height, mounting location and maintainability.
It's simple ... the higher you are the more area you can view. It is becoming apparent that a single camera mounted at 60-100ft (depending upon topography) can do the work of three or more cameras mounted at 40ft or lower. This can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars being saved in the initial design as well as overall maintenance. Furthermore, by increasing the mounting height you effectively decrease the ease of vandalization.
In the perimeter surveillance, the ideal camera mounting location is away from the facility itself. This allows the security team to recognize approaching threats quicker, while at the same time being able to look back at the facility and view where the building or structure access is being attempted - even if on a roof. Building-mounted cameras do not have the same versatility and area of view as a pole-mounted camera located away from the facility. In some border or port applications, the location of the camera is dependent upon whether a service (bucket) truck can gain access. Many times an excellent mounting location for viewing purposes (hilltop, hillside, or pier) is negated due to the problem of bucket truck accessibility.
This is the cornerstone issue in any surveillance application. When a camera remains down for more than 15 to 20 minutes, the resulting vulnerability (loss of sight) can create a passive security breach that requires the costly deployment of personnel to secure the area previously observed by the camera. Typical maintenance for pole- or structure-mounted cameras is most often by way of a bucket truck. The availability or accessibility of such trucks can mean a camera will remain offline for several hours to several days. Excessive camera downtime can cripple any facility, port or border from being able to effectively defend itself from impending threats. Acknowledging the importance of maintainability, and that with most projects maintainability almost always controls mounting height and location, camera deployment becomes an issue of "how high can the local bucket truck go?" and/or "can we get a bucket truck to the area where the camera is to be located?" However, with a CCTV lowering system, pole locations are no longer determined by 'where or how high' the bucket truck can go. If the best location for the pole is on an embankment, down a slope, on top of a parking deck or on a pier, placement can be successfully achieved without the concern of how the bucket truck will access the camera.
Regardless of the height or location chosen, the ability to quickly and easily access the cameras for maintenance can make a huge difference in the overall success of the security camera application. If the camera cannot be maintained at a moments notice with only one person, then money spent for the camera becomes a waste. The implementation of a camera-lowering device allows cameras to be accessed by a single person in a matter of seconds. All maintenance or replacement can be done at ground level, thereby eliminating the safety concerns of workers 40-plus feet above ground in a traditional bucket truck or tower climbers. This lowering technology is currently being utilized by the US Customs & Border Protection at several ports of entry from the US to Canada and US to Mexico. With the ability to perform required maintenance or replace a downed camera in less than 10 minutes, CCTV lowering systems should be a mandatory consideration for any perimeter security application.