Utility Develops Security Monitoring System

Richfield, MN, a Minneapolis suburb, has created a sophisticated security system using access control, surveillance cameras, wireless communications and other measures to protect the water supply for its 34,000 residents.

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By Tom Asp

Richfield, MN, a Minneapolis suburb, has created a sophisticated security system using access control, surveillance cameras, wireless communications and other measures to protect the water supply for its 34,000 residents.

In developing the system, Richfield first looked at the entry to its treatment facility. There, standalone access control keypads at two exterior doors were replaced with proximity card readers. Readers also were added to other areas, such as the loading dock.

Interior doors and hatches were addressed next. Card readers were added to doors to the filtering, pump, fluoride and other rooms and offices. Roof and well house doors and hatches had position switches installed so they could be monitored via the access control system.

An IP-based camera solution was designed and implemented in the next phase. Exterior pan-tilt-zoom cameras were installed to provide coverage of the well houses, clearwater tanks, dewater building and general coverage of the water treatment buildings and three-acre grounds. Six IP cameras were added to the existing 12 analog cameras already in place.

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The video intercom screens guests using a camera to remotely identify the driver, while other cameras can capture a perimeter view of their vehicle.
Click here to enlarge image

Another dozen IP cameras are planned as the budget permits. The cameras and access system have been integrated with the facility’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) management system that monitors the function and performance of critical operations.

Richfield’s wireless network allows employees to be notified of SCADA alarms and view the cameras monitoring the gauges on tablet PCs while they are moving about the grounds.

The final phase of the initial project included new fencing and a gate to prevent unauthorized access to the grounds. Card access interface, gate monitoring and communication devices were added to allow staff and vendors to be granted remote access through the gate.

Drivers deliver chemicals and other supplies on a regular basis. However, since the drivers change from time to time, it is important to verify who is behind the wheel. The new system allows a guard in the security control room to see and talk with the driver, while cameras provide a perimeter view of the truck. That way, the guard can feel confidant about who he allows onto the site, without putting himself in danger.

Still planned for future phases are access control and surveillance cameras for remote well houses – up to one-and-a-quarter mile from the treatment facility – and sharing of access control alarms and video with the city police department. Police officers already have key fobs that allow them entry to the treatment facility at any time.

Any attack on the water supply could result in many deaths or illnesses, as well as potentially severe economic disruption. Officials in Richfield – and many others across the country – are taking steps to significantly reduce the risk. But it is a critical job that will require cooperation between water and law enforcement officials and the talents of an experienced security system integrator. WW

About the Author:
Tom Asp is president and chief operating officer of VTI Security Integrators, a member of Security-Net, a network of 24 independent international system integrators providing clients with a single source for all electronic security needs. He joined VTI in 1986 and works in the corporate office in Burnsville, MN, where he supervises the Minnesota, Colorado, Wisconsin and Texas operations. Circle No. 212 on Reader Service Card

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