Thursday, November 13, 2008

Video Surveillance Design

John Honovich and Doktor Jon continue to provide more information about video surveillance technology. Building on his commitment to provide more basic information on video surveillance system design (see: “Reader Comment – 10-31-08”) John has posted a new page on his web site, How to Design a Video Surveillance Solution, that will almost certainly become the basis for a new chapter in his eBook. And Doktor Jon (see: “More Reader Responses from 10-31-08 Blog”), in a new email, pointed me at a page on his site dealing with 'profiling' a CCTV system. Everyone Has a Video System Other than security fencing, video surveillance systems are probably the most common security tool. Every convenience store and fast food restaurant has at least a couple of the ever present cameras. And every TV news story about a theft or robbery at one of these establishments includes video of the crime. With all of these cameras out and about, it would seem that there is a great deal of expertise available for chemical facilities to employ in designing their video surveillance systems. The problem is that there is a fundamental difference between a couple of camera pointed at a front door and cash register and an industrial scale video surveillance system. When a high-risk chemical facility looks for a consultant or company to design and implement a video surveillance system it is important to remember that experience in designing those common commercial facility systems is not necessarily a good recommendation. Even industrial experience does not necessarily indicate knowledge of how to set up systems in and around chemical systems. Layered Approach Doktor Jon, in a November 5th email, reminds us that:
“In terms of securing industrial plants, CCTV should not really be considered as the primary intrusion detection system, or indeed deployed as the sole method of verifying an intrusion, but rather working as part of a layered approach with many other technologies and techniques being applied to best effect.”
This is point that is repeatedly made in the recently released Draft Risk Based Performance Standard Guidance document. There are a couple of different reasons for this important design consideration. First, every system has its unique strong points and weak points. Multiple systems allows for overlap of coverage and reducing the overall weak points of the monitoring system. Secondly, it is possible to defeat any security system. Multiple systems increase the difficulty faced by an adversary in developing techniques and methods for surreptitiously bypassing the security detection system. More Doktor Jon Advice One more piece of advice from Doktor Jon, via his latest email, is that CCTV systems should not be looked at as just security systems. He maintains that they may also be considered as part of the facility safety system. He says:
“In addition, of equal performance is the use of these systems as a vital safety tool, not only in terms of assisting with the day to day operations (process monitoring), but also providing a vital support role for first responders, in the event of a serious incident.”
In the one video installation project on which I was a member of the plant team, we actively considered the emergency response use of the system when we picked camera locations. We took a hard look at camera positions that would allow us to monitor unloading operations of our two most hazardous chemicals along with the storage tanks for those chemicals. We wanted to make sure that we could get the most use out of our expensive system.

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