It can get tough out there. Common challenges include limited visibility due to illumination problems or environmental factors, as well as vibration and background noise with video solutions. Low light cameras and thermal cameras can play a role, as well as integrated optic and thermal cameras. The latter can work under environmental challenges as well as more normal situations.

Still, extreme temperature is not the only challenge. Outdoor security can be diverse, covering construction sites, waterfront applications and transportation hubs, to utility facilities and pipeline sites, often with myriad factors, covering power sources, data communications and false alarms.

Then there is metal theft, trespassers and potential terrorists.

So, temperature is not the only challenge. Outdoor security applications run the gamut, but climate change only makes the near-term more difficult.


Weather Challenges

A whitepaper on windstorm solutions notes that practically every U.S. state is at risk for either tornadoes or hurricanes today. So if a project is located in a tornado or hurricane-prone region, there are certain regulations and codes that your integrators need to understand.

Most integrators understand fire codes and ratings and what can and can’t be done to a door. Hurricane and tornado rated doors, openings and products are similar, but if anything more stringent. Openings that have windstorm ratings can still have access control, but there are special considerations, says a whitepaper by Allegion.

Unlike other access systems and products, an opening that carries hurricane and tornado certifications is by code required to be certified as assemblies. With new construction, security execs may simply need to make sure the right door is ordered and prepped for the access control solution he or she is going to install. However, in retrofit situations where there may not be an architect or engineer involved, it is up to the security executive and integrator to be the code expert.

As with fire regulations, each state and region may have their own version or interpretation of a code, so it is important to work closely with the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). For instance, Some AHJs in Florida accept that state’s building code; others prefer the Miami-Dade code instead. Other states may still be working off of five- or 10-year-old codes.

The National Electrical Code may also come into play, where the NEC may want to see something even if the building code doesn’t require it.

Another rugged access control twist: Portable readers are a lightweight and rugged hand-held card-reading device for roaming security. With features that include card swipe and visual verification of cardholder photograph and high-resolution and sunlight readable display.


Can’t Forget the Budge

Still, when it comes to ruggedized security, location, budget, threats and priorities indicate a specific road. Philip Lisk, director of information technology at New Jersey’s Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, is less concerned with weather, concentrating on use in larking facilities. It is where cameras are more likely to face vandalism.

On the other hand, in many applications today, especially with long distances, large areas, remote locations or industrial sites, the main concerns are theft and trespassing as well as safety, because the result could be loss of a life.

In Canada and parts of the U.S., the challenges are more environmental and often coupled with human threats.

Take pipelines, for example. There are more of such pipes crisscrossing North America.

Patrick Smyth of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, which is headquartered in Calgary, Canada, says: “For instance, when someone tampers with critical energy infrastructure, they are escalating the risk to themselves; to the neighboring people and public at large; and to the environment.”

Winter is the biggest challenge, adds Helen Perry-Raycraft at integrator Brigadier Security Systems Ltd. in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Technology is continually getting better, but when temperatures drop to -22 through -58 degrees, there is an understanding that outdoor security solutions may not function. One of the most important things to focus on is and, if needed, replaced and in working order before the cold weather comes.

Some organizations, particularly large ones or those with tight government regulations, have already completed a threat risk vulnerability analysis or know what their rugged security needs are. The bottom line: Integrators are seeing more end users specifying for things like solar power or remote video capabilities. Battery-powered systems are also big, but add complications since some batteries are also affected by the cold.


Long Distances Bring Harsh Vulnerabilities

Another challenge is sheer distance. One answer is layering different technologies together. There has to be a lot of redundancy in such specialized outdoor applications. Thermal imaging and video analytics are often helpful. But there as disadvantages with the advantages. For example, PTZ cameras can include higher power requirements. One solution that has proven low maintenance and runs using clean technology are fuel cell generators. When solar cannot do the job to power a system 24/7, sources that switch between fuel cell and solar are good alternatives.

Another solution is interest in mobile trailers or all-in-one mobile systems that can be modified for specific applications to include multiple cameras, 360-degree sensors, power, lighting and alarms. Mobile units can have mounted RF radar, infrared cameras and day/night color cameras, and use methanol fuel cells and solar charging batteries for power as well as wireless communications.

Allegion’s Brad Aikin believes that rugged access controls often starts with standards and requirements such as Standard 294 for access control systems and ANSI/BHMA standards set forth different product grades for a particular hardware item including ruggedness. These product grades (grade 1, 2, or 3 – with grade 1 being the highest) are defined by progressive levels of performance benchmarks in each applicable ANSI/BHMA standard. The grade of any particular architectural hardware item also can be ascertained by looking at its BHMA product number. This standardized BHMA numbering system also delineates other important classification information, such as the predominant material used, product category, and function of a specific hardware item.

Door hardware is increasingly connected, observes Aikin, who adds that the perimeter of buildings has higher level of locking. Rugged can mean a diversity of solutions – withstanding harsh environments such as windstorms, tornados, hurricanes) but also vandalism and environmental/safety.

When it comes to the Advanced Encryption Standard or AES, a symmetric block cipher to protect classified information implemented in software and hardware to encrypt sensitive data, impacts ruggedness, Aikin says hardwire is mostly better but even hardwire needs attention. Making components more rugged with other factors such as enclosures, battery power can handle different temp ranges outside and inside. There also are accessories such as push pads and proximity indicators as someone approaches.

The future, according to Aiken, covers:

  • Improvements in network-connected devices;
  • Expect more protocols and variations;
  • Simplify connect and approaches;
  • Best practices; and
  • Anti-drone radar.

Often in remote and harsh locations, new tech addresses drone threats to protect critical infrastructure. UAVX  helps commercial facilities and large-scale venues actively monitor and secure their premises, protecting them from unwelcome drones and UAVs.  The approach detects, tracks and classifies by using small drones, radar, artificial intelligence and long-range video tracking.

Expect more access control integration appliances. One compact solid-state network appliance runs on an embedded OS, and comes ready-to-go. The appliance comes pre-installed with enterprise-class software (full native client and Web client) providing integrated access, locking, alarms and video. There’s no software to install on any client or server and is built with  no moving parts and a ruggedized, embedded computing platform.

No doubt, the video surveillance market is quickly expanding. Outdoor or remote sites and facilities traditionally couldn’t support high definition cameras recording continuously.    Selecting a rugged server and network switch that’s reliable is vital to the success of any outdoor security solution. Parking garages, remote sensitive infrastructure and roadways are all common rugged surveillance placements. So enterprise security executives now expect more and better components covering, for example, newer fanless, rugged devices.

Rigid servers and rigid networking series are versatile enough to guarantee high performance in remote locations and storage footage without a network in place. By extending ruggedized networks outdoors, in parking garages, street poles and other remote locations can support IP video surveillance hardened against shock and vibration, humidity, atmospheric pollutants and electromagnetic interference.


9 Tips to Overcome Tough Access Control Spots

1. Determine if the environment really is harsh or hazardous.

Harsh is a pretty broad term. Sometimes harsh is less than obvious. Dirt, static, even vibration can be a harsh environment depending on the application.


2. Understand how an environment is harsh.

There are two types of environmental concerns: those affecting the product and those affecting the user.


3. Pick harsh environment-friendly technology when possible.

Everyone’s life is a little easier with newer electronics whether inside or outside.  There are limits, however, when it comes, say, temperature range. Most are now potted, protecting the electronics from a host of harsh elements. Newer biometric technologies boast biometric sensors and their ability to work in harsh environments. With new multi-spectral technology they can penetrate past that initial layer of skin and read the finger and vein below the skin, allowing them to still get a good read in harsh situations.


4. Pay attention to wiring and peripheral devices.

Probably the biggest pitfall is not picking up the right hardware or wiring. It comes right down to the wire used. Sometimes wire at -20 degrees Fahrenheit leads to insulation crack and can shatter while pulling the wire. Some say there is not an environment where an end user or integrator wouldn’t use a maglock except maybe in explosion proof because of the metal on metal. But some of the more sensitive electronic locks may not be as conducive to harsh environments. They are not ready for water intrusion.


5. Check data sheets.

Many products don’t come labeled for “harsh” environments. Take time to engineer the quality at the beginning and have all the right parts and pieces. Verify parts and equipment including what voltage all of the items need to run on.


6. Know the codes and ratings.


7. Ask the right questions.


8. Ask the right people.

Knowing who to ask is just as important as knowing what to ask. Ask specifics about the environment.


9. Make sure it is installed properly.

Installing a device in a harsh environment is not the same as inside a conference room.


Information courtesy of SDM Magazine


The IP Numbers Count

IP (or “Ingress Protection”) ratings are an international standard used to define levels of sealing effectiveness of enclosures against intrusion from foreign bodies and moisture. The numbers that follow IP each have a specific meaning.I


First Digit (intrusion protection)

0        No special protection

1        Protection from a large part of the body such as a hand (but no protection from deliberate access); from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter.

2        Protection against fingers or other object not greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter.

3        Protection from entry by tools, wires etc, with a diameter of 2.5 mm or more.

4        Protection against solid bodies larger than 1mm (fine tools/small etc.).

5        Protected against dust that may harm equipment.

6        Totally dust tight.


Second Digit (moisture protection)

0        No protection.

1        Protection against condensation.

2        Protection against water droplets deflected up to 15° from vertical

3        Protected against spray up to 60° from vertical.

4        Protected against water spray from all directions.

5        Protection against low pressure water jets (all directions)

6        Protection against string water jets and waves.

7        Protected against temporary immersion.

8        Protected against prolonged effects of immersion under pressure.