Building an Effective and Reliable Edge-Based Intrusion Protection Plan for any Mining Site
A reliable mining industry is vital to the well-being of society; the economy and our communities depend on it. Meaning mining infrastructure and other related industrial operations is essential. Think underground activities, open surface, refineries, and decommissioning sites– from exploration sites, discovery sites, development locations, production, and reclamation sites, they all matter. While cybersecurity is much considered and is central to safeguarding locations, physical safety is just as important- how to implement multiple layers of active, effective intrusion protection to secure their outer perimeter, inside the perimeter, and critical core facilities and assets.
Mining sites are attractive targets for thieves and saboteurs, which is why intrusion protection is vital. However, let’s consider the full scope of ‘intrusion protection’, the bigger picture of it all. To do this, we must look beyond the initial real-time alerts associated with detection of a potential incidents, to a broader strategy around preventing intruder-related damage or theft. It’s an action plan that requires various automated, connected surveillance solutions that can be layered together to go beyond solely detecting intruders by classifying, verifying, identifying, tracking, and deterring them, with the goal of keeping sites free from any kind of unwanted access.
Think edge device, not camera technology
Innovations in edge devices are driving increasingly advanced capabilities within the realm of surveillance solutions. What does this mean? It means a camera is no longer just a ‘recording device’. It is a sophisticated network camera with powerful processing capabilities. It can act as a sensor which can gather rich metadata as well as act as a server on the edge to communicate, control, and trigger other devices on the network via open communications protocols. Above and beyond, mining infrastructure and operations can opt for innovative, open surveillance that can easily integrate into their existing infrastructure to maximize previous investments.
These developments offer new avenues for mining by enabling advanced edge-based solutions. Switching the focus from camera technology to edge devices acting as powerful, real-time sensors is the first building block to better, more optimized surveillance solutions. In addition, it allows for new possibilities for effective intrusion protection.
Exploration to reclamation: Outer perimeter and fence line protection
Intrusion protection starts at the outer perimeter of a mining site. The first steps are detecting and verifying a potential intruder, whether along the fence line or in the ‘buffer zone’ outside the perimeter.
To detect an intruder at a distance in the ‘buffer zone’ of an excavation site, for example, radar devices pointing outwards from the site’s fence line can spot a potential threat and send an alert to the site manager long before the intruder reaches the perimeter. This allows the site manager or security personnel to be aware of a potential trespasser scenario early. Along the fence line itself, thermal cameras with intelligent analytics can be deployed to identify and classify whether a moving object nearby is a potential intruder – rather than wildlife.
Then there are thermal cameras that are fully General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-compliant because they don’t reveal any biometric information and offer detection accuracy and reliability even in very challenging weather or environmental conditions. Depending on local surveillance regulations, both radar and thermal devices should be considered for monitoring the area outside the mining site, given they comply with even the most stringent data privacy regulations.
Mining companies are vulnerable to thefts of equipment and fuel and, of course, this impacts production. People also trespass to explore or play in decommissioned mine sites, quarries, tunnels, and pits. So, when a potential intruder/trespasser is detected along the fence line or in the ‘buffer zone’, a site manager can configure the connected surveillance solutions to either raise the alarm immediately or set off the alarm if that person moves into an area which they’ve previously identified as the intrusion alarm zone. This second approach reduces the risk of false alarms, enabling the system to detect the person early but only setting off the alarm and other escalation procedures if the intruder enters a certain zone or perimeter.
Once a person has been detected and the alarm has been raised, it triggers the next step in a chain of events: verification. Visual cameras, such as pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ), with tracking analytics pick up the alarm from the thermal cameras or network radar and verify the alarm by showing a visual image of the person. In addition to providing the possibility of identifying the intruder, the camera tracking analytics then engage to monitor where they go.
To stop the intruder from attempting to breach the perimeter, you can rely on deterrents, such as audio solutions or white light LED reflectors that will light up the scene. For example, the connected surveillance solutions could trigger an automatic audio message to warn the intruder away and flag the presence of security personnel, with the aim of discouraging theft or property damage or exploring an unsafe site location.
On-site area protection within the perimeter
When a mining perimeter has been breached, the connected surveillance solution will continue to track the intrusion and how it develops so that the site manager or security personnel can act on the matter. It’s helpful that radar, thermal and visual cameras work well in conjunction with audio units and other devices to follow the intruder’s progress and attempt to prevent them from further advancing. Keeping an eye on their trail is also useful for follow-up forensics investigations or police procedures.
Every mining site is unique, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to intrusion protection. For instance, depending on how a system is set up, network radar within the perimeter could take over from the radar along the fence to detect the intruder, send an alert and track where they are going. Advanced radar systems can follow the intruder and directly communicate with PTZ cameras, allowing them to track the intruder and verify alarms with visuals.
Security personnel must know which way the intruder is heading to better position themselves to block them off or activate security measures along their path. Connected surveillance solutions provide this essential information by tracking the intruder’s path. Once personnel have insight into the intruder’s route, the connected surveillance solutions can trigger more white lights and audio units to deter them from going further. For example, the system’s network audio speakers can play a live or pre-recorded message, flagging that security guards are on their way or that a trespasser is in a dangerous zone. The alarms will have triggered an automatic notification to the central control room – enabling the operator to verify the incident before response team measures are triggered – so the operator or security guards can also use a network audio device on site to warn the person off before they must resort to a physical intervention or calling law enforcement.
Third layer: Protecting critical core facilities and assets
We covered the first and second layers of protection; the third layer is protecting the perimeter, site infrastructure, equipment and other critical facilities and assets with access control. These solutions, such as door or gate stations and intercoms, play a key role in making sure that only authorized personnel and visitors can use entrances and exits on the perimeter, be admitted into specific buildings, sites, or even certain rooms, or enter fenced off areas, such as a mine load centers or mine power source.
Many vehicles pass in and out of mine sites, so vehicle access control is essential. To r only authorized vehicles are admitted, cameras with license plate recognition analytics offer an efficient solution to admit or stop vehicles before entering or leaving the site, or specific areas within the site. They can be used in conjunction with intercom systems to enable more efficient access control and verification with two-way audio communication between the site visitor and security personnel. This is particularly crucial for automated sites, we are seeing more of them in mining, that may not have staff at the facility.
A decentralized system offers many benefits
A system with a single point of failure is a flawed system: intrusion protection systems at critical mining infrastructure and other operations sites must always be reliable. Building an edge-based, de-centralized system that doesn’t depend on one device is an absolute. In fact, an edge-based system can mitigate risks, particularly when comprised of physical devices that offer a variety of built-in cybersecurity features to counter cyberattacks and prevent unauthorized system access.
Consider, for example, having multiple thermal cameras along the mining perimeter with each camera as an edge hub for its area. It allows security personnel to create security clusters that run independently of a central server. If a camera fails, that specific cluster might not work fully, but the rest of the system continues to function as expected. Additionally, if a specific device fails, the system has a monitor that will automatically inform the system operator so it can be addressed.
Operational excellence: More protection, less costs
Reducing operating costs, increasing productivity, and improving efficiency are integral to mining operational excellence 101. Building an edge-based intrusion protection system offers the latest in innovation while also providing an opportunity to cut system costs significantly. Sites can reduce bandwidth requirements and additional video streams that would usually be sent to central servers for video analysis. Consequently, the need for additional servers, rack space, and passive network equipment, such as UPS devices, on a central site is dramatically decreased. Then there are thermal network cameras, which can be deployed at the edge, allowing sites to cover larger zones of the perimeter than is possible with standard visual network cameras. This reduces the amount of installation poles, cabling, construction required, hours of work plus VMS and software licenses needed. Putting this measure into place also reduces system power consumption, minimizing total system costs dramatically without lowering the levels of protection. Even better, costs are reduced, but system reliability improves: an IP thermal-based intrusion protection solution offers increased system reliability and intrusion detection rate, even in challenging weather conditions and complicated work environments.
Layers of reinforcement: from perimeter to critical core
An effective and reliable intrusion protection plan requires solid bedrock. By building an edge-based and connected intrusion protection system that provides several layers of security, all mining sites can safeguard protected areas in a robust, dependable, and cost-effective way. This type of platform will set up mining companies for today’s needs, tomorrow, and their long-term viability, allowing for future system growth that meets their needs.
About the Company
Axis is the industry leader in video surveillance, developing and supplying innovative network solutions that improve security and business performance. Axis provides network solutions in video surveillance, access control, intercom, and audio systems, that are further enhanced by intelligent analytics applications and supported by high-quality training.
The company was founded in 1984 and is headquartered in Lund, Sweden, and today employes approximately 4,000 employees in over 50 countries.
In collaboration with thousands of technology and system integration partners, Axis is dedicated to enabling a smarter, safer world.