With the mounting number of high-value assets being stored outdoors for multiple industries, these commercial properties often do not have adequate security to safeguard against outdoor crime.
If your customers have high-value assets stored outside their business, they could be a target for theft, damage or vandalism. To detect and deter criminal activity such as yard theft, after-hours trespassing and loitering, they should consider outdoor security solutions that can better protect their business.
This guide will help you walk customers through what they need to know about outdoor perimeter security and the steps they should take when considering an outdoor security system.
1. Define Objectives
It’s important that your customers first identify their main objectives. These will influence what technology their business requires and lay the foundation for a comprehensive security platform tailored to their needs. A few common security objectives include:
- Preventing intruders from entering their premises
- Protecting their employees and customers
- Preventing loss of business assets
- Detecting and recording any activity on their premises
- Notifying authorities of potential criminal activity
For example, if your customer is looking to deter theft or vandalism, their outdoor security strategy might include an electrified fence or fence-mounted sensors, motion detectors, thermal security cameras and video surveillance.
No two locations are identical but establishing a few baseline objectives will help you and your customer design a security solution that makes sense for their business.
2. Analyze Current Strategy
Your customer’s experience onsite has given them invaluable insight into what outdoor security system will be best for their business. Leverage their knowledge of the site to anticipate potential security risks and address them within the security plan.
Here’s a checklist of questions to cover when evaluating your customer’s outdoor security strategy:
- What security technologies have you used in the past and what are you using now?
- What’s worked (and what hasn’t)?
- Are your current systems dated and antiquated?
- Do they need to be augmented or updated with newer technology?
- Do you currently have an intrusion detection system with an available zone for integrating with your thermal perimeter detection system?
- What type of communication method will be used: IP? Cell? IP with cell backup?
- Do environmental factors, such as landscaping features or signage, present any security risks for your business?
- Will your security system be required to work 24/7/365 or only during certain hours?
- Is your system partitioned to arm areas not in use at certain times of the day?
- What areas need to be covered by the outdoor security system (perimeter fence, open areas, parking lots, pedestrian areas, etc.)?
As the security integrator, you can help customers answer these questions, find holes in their strategy and help them patch these holes with the right perimeter security solution.
3. Review Perimeter Options
When designing an outdoor security system with your customer, help them understand the options that are available to them, and the pros and cons of each. Here are two solutions you should review with your customers:
A video surveillance system works great for post-event documentation and evidence, but it doesn’t help prevent an event from occurring in the first place. Your customer might believe that placing cameras around the outside of their facility will deter intruders, and to some extent it might, but it cannot truly prevent or immediately alert them to an event.
To ensure their business has the best coverage and security, the current best practice is to use motion-sensing capabilities in the cameras. This setting means that cameras will only record when they detect movement in the frame, allowing more retention time per camera. Recorded footage of six hours of an empty room takes up precious amounts of storage on their hard drives.
Camera capabilities must be considered when securing the exterior of your customer’s facility. System design should take into account the distance being covered and the desired clarity. Clarity at a distance means a higher megapixel camera or a different lens that will cut down the field of view. With digital zoom features in newer cameras, it makes more sense to cover a large area with fewer high-megapixel cameras.
If your customer has a large fenced-in area with heavy equipment, maybe they want cameras on the fence at the back of the lot. Powering cameras in these instances can prove challenging and might involve adding electrical boxes or PoE extenders. All of these factors have to be considered in the design phase of the project.
Thermal security cameras
Fence protection used to be managed by placing beams across the top of the fence to alert businesses to an intruder on their property. Unfortunately, the beams couldn’t tell the difference between a person crossing the beam and an animal. False alarms were a constant issue. This has changed with the arrival of thermal sensors on the market.
Thermal sensors can detect heat signatures in complete darkness or harsh environments like fog, rain, sleet and snow. The sensors — which can be mounted on buildings, electrical poles or a perimeter fence — can then trigger an alarm and capture video of an intruder. Once a thermal sensor triggers an alarm, the video clip is sent to a security monitoring center for review by a verification employee.
Thermal security camera sensors have built-in analytics software that help verification employees monitor and determine the difference between body heat and the surrounding environment. Viewing the image remotely, the monitoring center can verify the difference between a human and an animal as they cross the fence line. This increases the accuracy of evidence and can escalate a priority police dispatch during a crime.
4. Anticipate Possible Challenges
Any number of challenges can get in the way of implementing an outdoor perimeter protection solution, so to overcome these, it’s important to help your customers build their plan based on informed predictions.
Some common challenges include:
- Budget: If the right solution lies somewhere outside your customer’s budget, they may need to plan a phased approach, adding to their perimeter security systems in layers over time. This allows them to realize major security benefits in the near term, while creating a roadmap for their security needs in the future. Alternatively, if you provide a financing option, that can be a significant advantage. As you move through the design process and talk costs, it’s important to relay to the customer the capabilities that they can have for the budget they have laid out. There is a fine line to walk between the budget and the system capabilities, and sometimes it’s best to explain to the customer that they might not be able to achieve what they are asking for at the cost that they desire.
- Integration: Knowing what they need is only half the battle; making it work in conjunction with their other systems is the other. Integration among access, video, intrusion and fire systems are a must in today’s environment. Do your customer’s access control doors open when the fire system alarms? Does their camera record who buzzes into a specific high-security space? Does a card read in the morning from the right person disable the intrusion alarm? Integrations like these are important to discuss with your customers.
- Installation and labor: Installation challenges bring key logistical concerns to the forefront of your customers’ planning. You can help them overcome these challenges by providing the full extent of the installation and labor their system(s) will require, and all the associated costs (both in terms of money and time). Help them understand how various system designs can reduce labor, like a wireless system that might cost more in hardware but significantly reduce the installation time.
- Limits of technology: It will vary by technology, make and model, but it’s important for your customers to know each security solution’s unique limitations in order to avoid gaps in their security. What angle of view can the cameras see? How long will wireless power last before batteries will need to be recharged or replaced? Do they have adequate lighting for their video surveillance system? Where are the best mounting locations for sensors or cameras? The answers to these questions will not only make their perimeter security system more tactically proficient, but will also help them make more informed decisions about security.
- Employee Engagement: Designing and implementing a security platform is important, but customer buy-in and engagement is equally vital to the system’s success. Help your customer build policies and procedures for their employees to increase the effectiveness of their new system. Convenience can quickly invalidate a new security system. Limiting entrance to two main doors is a common practice, but if an employee likes to park on the side of the building or take frequent smoke breaks outside of that door, you might find a secure, locked door left cracked in order to continue that convenience. Buy-in and understanding from the employees will keep the system effective after install is complete.
5. Get Started
After you’ve helped your customer define their objectives, analyze their past and current strategies and review their options for a perimeter security system, all that’s left is making a decision.
At the end of this process, it’s not uncommon for customers to have more questions than answers. This is where you come in. With your extensive knowledge and experience, you should be able to help answer their remaining questions — serving as their partner during the process and a trusted expert who they can return to with future security projects.