Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This Unique Small Radar Unit Can Help Reduce Security Threats to our Power Grid

Welcome to Guest Blogger  Logan Harris of Spotter RF

Certain weaknesses in the US power grid were exposed after an attack last year on a substation in California. In fact, a coordinated, physical attack on substations could shut down the entire country and take months to repair.  While many of the 55,000 substations in the United States are equipped with security measures such as fence sensors, thermal cameras, microwave and passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors – almost none can detect and respond to threats outside of the fence.

Cutting edge radar technology may be the answer to fill this gap in security. The SpotterRF Compact Surveillance Radar can detect movement in a wide area and alert operators of suspicious activity. By setting up just four of these radars in strategic positions, an entire substation can be monitored and protected. Not only can the radar detect intruders, it records selective activity and sends an alert to the operator when needed. These alerts can be networked through tablets, PCs and even smart phones.

Originally designed for elite forces, the SpotterRF compact radar is small enough to fit in your hand and is highly effective in detecting intruders. The SpotterRF radar is able to put a GPS tracker on anything that is moving towards a perimeter and is effective in all weather conditions and on varied terrain.  Because the user can define geographic areas and behaviors to monitor, there is a low chance of false alarms.  Because of the compact radar’s small size and low power requirements the entire system can be set up in as little as one day and many times re-used on wireless solar powered stations.

The California attack lasted for a full ten minutes before sparks from gunfire hitting the transformers finally triggered an alarm and operators learned what was happening. We can’t afford to have that kind of a lag in response time when our nation’s security is at stake. In order to defend our power grid from terror attacks coming from outside the fence, we need to look at innovative products like the Spotter Shield system. In fact, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently sanctioned the revision of perimeter security standards for the physical security of transformers and substations.
While camera based detection systems help to solve some of these problems, they are limited by many factors, such as weather and lighting conditions. Even infrared cameras have a reduced range in severe weather. The ground-based radar technology used in the Spotter Shield system overcomes these limitations and provides accurate, wide-range surveillance in any environment.

The physical security systems currently in place at many substations not only fail to give advance warning or detect intruders outside the fence, they are costly to setup and maintain. The SpotterRF equipment is comparable in price, with a much simpler installation process and the ability to detect beyond the fence. The Shield system is also designed to only record video when something triggers the alarm, so there is less costly data storage.

In a nation like ours, where the economic, industrial and agricultural infrastructures are so reliant on electrical power, protecting critical substations is and should be a top priority. Fence alarms aren’t enough when terrorists can simply take shots from outside the perimeter. As events unfold and new regulations are put into place, utilities companies ought to be looking at possible solutions to this weakness. The SpotterRF Shield system is one logical response to security threats of this magnitude.

To learn more about compact radar and how it can protect our substations, visit http://www.SpotterRF.com.

Founder and CEO of SpotterRF, Logan Harris is an experienced entrepreneur with a deep technical background in RF and DSP. His experience has ranged from semiconductor processing with IBM, fiber optics with TRW, mass spectrometry for Sensar Larson Davis and home automation with Vantage. Mr. Harris holds a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Brigham Young University.

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