Energy could be seen as the lifeblood of a modern civilization. In 2019 a five-day blackout caused havoc in Venezuela, giving the world a taste of what would happen without it. One terrible outcome was the death of 26 patients in the country's hospitals – life-saving procedures relied on power. The energy industry is responsible for keeping all our power needs satisfied. But securing energy is no mean feat, especially since European consumers alone use around 11% of the world's energy reserves.
Challenges of securing energy
This is also big business, and comes with some quite unique challenges. The goal is to maintain constant production, transformation, and distribution of power, securing energy across the whole infrastructure – safely. These energy sites are often very large, and can be quite complex.
One big issue for securing energy sites is the amount of copper present. Copper is used throughout industrial processes because of its high ductility, malleability, thermal and electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion. This makes it a valuable commodity. Thieves have been known to break into energy sites solely for the purpose of removing the copper and selling it. The sites can also be a focus for terrorists or extremists who choose targets with large impact.
All in all, these are sites that can really benefit from the innovation of modern technologies.
Securing energy safely
Energy sites are typically fenced and come with 'danger' warnings for those who trespass. However, the common misconception is this is 'over-exaggerated', and solely due to security. In fact, those warnings are designed to alert people to the potential hazards that can be found on these sites. For example, an electric transformer station can be managing around 75,000 volts, or more, at a given time. This has led to trespasser fatalities in the past, so is a very real threat.
Innovative solutions to this include robust perimeter security. A specific technology that comes in useful here is thermal imaging. A common set-up includes Bi-spectrum Thermal Cameras. They can detect trespassers' heat signatures even in the lowest visibility. The visual lens of the camera, on the other hand, can provide clarification and verification. A PTZ camera is often added, to give operators the ability to focus on a particular area in detail quickly. They can also follow 'intruders' as they move through the area. Another device to consider in this situation is a loudspeaker which can be connected to the system. This can be used to sound a particular recorded warning message, or even for the operator to communicate live.
Securing energy in-site
All of these separate devices can be brought together and managed in one place. Using centralized VMS tools, like Hikvision's HikCentral, operators can see the feeds from all cameras and manage the whole system. There are remote benefits too. In some cases, security managers can monitor sites from another location. Access to a mobile app can also provide a handy monitoring tool, even when personnel are on the move.