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Hazard Counting: How Hardened Video Cameras Can Secure the Most Dangerous of Sites

hazardous area
Jumbi Edulbehram

Video surveillance technology is a key component of security plans for enterprise organizations. And nowhere is this more true than at oil and gas production sites, critical infrastructure facilities, and manufacturing locations that are considered “hazardous environments.” Here, protection, safety and security go hand-in-hand with operations management, and video technology is at the heart of these plans.

These locations can often become targets for vandalism, theft and even terrorist attacks, and a comprehensive security plan that incorporates emerging technology solutions can protect employees, assets and the surrounding communities. The video surveillance technology being developed to meet the needs of these sectors balances providing innovation with robust functionality and enhanced security in order to protect day-to-day operations.

Technology Innovations and Advancements

Technology advancements in this space include artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning, connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity and video analytics. Each one of these innovations relies heavily on video, and in hazardous environments, the robustness of the equipment and the resilience of the infrastructure is critical.

Machine learning and AI-enabled devices

Software manufacturers are looking toward AI/machine learning to propel advanced analytics in an effort to deliver more situational awareness to operators. While video and data analytic capabilities have been around for quite some time, some would argue they were rudimentary in comparison to software that uses AI and machine learning to make applications such as facial recognition much more accurate and to create new ways to detect anomalies in an environment. In addition, AI/machine learning will increasingly be used to make sense of the large amounts of data that are being generated by intelligent sensors and by analyzing the growing amount of video.

In hazardous environments, this use of technology becomes vital, especially in locales such as remote oil and gas production sites, where it is difficult, if not impossible, to provide adequate on-site coverage for safety and security. Software that utilizes AI-centric technology can “learn” the normal perimeter of a site down to a pixel change in a video and, when anomalies occur, can send alerts to an operator.

Rise of connected devices

IoT and connected devices have been a major trend in the industry for several years. This is expanding to include environments that must meet stringent regulatory standards, as cybersecurity efforts are bolstered and sensors are integrated into the network. The collection and analysis of data will give rise to a plethora of applications, such as intelligent management of facilities, an increased ability to detect anomalies, and the performance of predictive maintenance. Organizations can benefit by having additional intelligence for situational awareness and emergency management, as well as opportunities to provide advanced asset performance management.

Connectivity also means integration – between video surveillance technology, access control, fire and intrusion alarms and more. Seamless integration ensures that events that require more investigation can be pinpointed easily within the system, and that multiple camera angles, access control information and alerts can be immediately called up to formulate an overall picture of what is happening.

Increased focus on cybersecurity

Cyberattacks have become, and will continue to be, a major threat to critical infrastructure sites and other enterprise-level organizations. It goes without saying that as devices are increasingly connected to a network, the risk of breaches goes up, which is why the shift over the last few years has been around strengthening the security of networked devices. All networkconnected devices, such as DVRs/NVRs, servers, video cameras, access control equipment, intrusion alarms and smart sensors, are vulnerable, leading manufacturers to build additional cybersecurity into their products. What is also emerging is that integrators and end users are starting to factor cybersecurity into their buying criteria.

Increasing use of video

Video is the cornerstone of security, providing both real-time and forensic coverage for emerging threats and incidents. The use of video will continue to grow for traditional applications in new markets, such as manufacturing and logistics, as well as for use in newer applications that are not necessarily related to security. In some industries, such as oil and gas, there is a trend toward extending video coverage to monitor operations in extremely harsh and hazardous environments, so surveillance manufacturers will have to develop appropriately certified equipment to meet this demand. Manufacturing facilities such as food processing plants are also increasing their use of video for training and compliance purposes to prevent incidents such as food recalls.

Robust Protection in Hazardous Environments

It is critical for organizations in hazardous areas to select security cameras that are made to withstand the harshest environments while remaining able to collect critical information. Video solutions that use hardened protective enclosures and provide exceptional video quality make the safekeeping of these critical sites possible.

Strategic placement of panoramic surveillance cameras is key to maximizing coverage and enhancing situational awareness. Panoramic IP cameras are now available with ATEX, IEC and IECEx-certified enclosures for locations where combustible fuel materials are in close proximity and explosions may occur. (See the sidebar for more of these standards and where to look for them.) Combined with additional ratings such as IP69K/ IK10, these enclosures are rated for resistance to high-pressure water jets, dust and vandalism, greatly enhancing the surveillance of critical infrastructure.

Another important consideration in selecting video surveillance equipment for hazardous environments is ease of integration. “Open” platforms can deliver the flexibility and scalability that organizations need in order to utilize existing systems and implement new ones as needs change. Incorporating solutions that allow for the flexibility to scale, as well as the means to achieve business intelligence and increase situational awareness, can aid security personnel in establishing a comprehensive security plan that maximizes return on investment.

Open platform solutions also enable relatively easy integration between disparate systems, incorporating not only video data capture, but also data from third-party systems, such as access control, industrial controls, motion detection sensors, leak detection sensors, thermography and license plate recognition. The ability to combine data from multiple sources enables full situational awareness.

Additionally, specialized 180 and 360-degree surveillance technology has emerged as an important element in a comprehensive security plan, delivering wide-angle views of large, open areas. Panoramic coverage offers security operators and facility managers the ability to see a large area with no blind spots and also allows operators to zoom in on areas of interest in live as well as playback mode. A single 360-degree camera can replace multiple narrow field-ofview cameras, resulting in a more expansive, cost-effective solution for critical infrastructure and hazardous sites.

Manufacturing and Logistics Protection

There is another area where hazards exist in the workplace and video surveillance is required to adhere to stringent regulations: manufacturing and logistics. With many moving parts and challenges to consider, manufacturing, logistics and even transportation services must turn to advanced security solutions that enhance safety, compliance and business operations.

One of the biggest challenges for companies that operate industrial facilities – factories, warehouses, loading bays, etc. – is the fact that activity is not confined to one location; the supply chain is extensive and complex. As goods are transferred between facilities, each individual location creates an additional area of exposure and risk.

A key requirement is tracking products and processes throughout the entire supply chain, which requires extensive use of video. This coverage can be made more robust with the use of 180 and 360-degree video technology. Deploying high-resolution, wide-angle surveillance cameras in facilities, vehicles, handling spaces, docks, and entrances and exits can ensure extensive coverage for live monitoring and, if necessary, incident review.

These surveillance tools can also be useful for business operations, as a bustling supply chain and expansive facilities raises the risk of shrinkage. Review of video can reveal sources of shrinkage and ensure proper handling and control of goods across the facility. Another major concern is compliance with appropriate health and safety procedures. With many people and assets moving in a variety of directions on foot and in vehicles, it can be challenging to guarantee comprehensive compliance.

The advanced level of situational awareness provided by wide-angle surveillance cameras enables management to pinpoint instances in which policies are breached and to identify areas that can be improved. Additionally, when it comes to liability, recorded video allows for easy verification of the cause of an incident.

Protecting critical infrastructure and hazardous environments is of paramount importance to the health and well-being of society. Video surveillance systems are vital to ensuring safety and security in these areas, so it is essential for organizations to make sure their systems meet or exceed quality standards and regulatory requirements.

Certifications for Hazardous Environment Protection

When customers with facilities in hazardous environments seek out products, there are multiple certifications available to ensure the utmost in protection for video surveillance equipment. These include:

  • IECEx: The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has identified the IECEx voluntary certification scheme as its system to facilitate the acceptance of equipment for use in explosive environments in many countries around the world. The system is based on zones that define the probability of ignitable hazardous material being present in the atmosphere, such as gas and dust.
  • ATEX: National deviations of the IECEx standard are used throughout the world, with ATEX a requirement in the European Union. The ATEX certification describes what equipment and work is allowed in an area with an explosive atmosphere, and its qualifications are similar to those of the IECEx certification. The ATEX mark certifies a camera for use in non-mining, explosion-prone environments, with an ambient temperature between -20°C and +55°C.
  • NSF Certification: NSF International Standard 169 – Special Purpose Food Equipment and Devices serves as the benchmark by which all commercial foodservice equipment products are measured. Certification signifies to customers, specifiers and health departments that the products have been reviewed and certified by an independent third-party organization to the industry’s leading standards and that they meet all applicable North American regulatory sanitation requirements.
  • NEMA: The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) develops product standards for the North American market equivalent to the ingress protection (IP) ratings for various grades of electrical enclosures typically used in industrial applications. Each is rated to protect against personnel access to hazardous parts, and additional type-dependent designated environmental conditions.
  • IP69K and IP68: The IP rating system is an internationally recognized scale that relates to proven protection against environmental factors such as liquids and solids. IP69K is the highest IP protection rating available against water and dust ingress and is widely used to test products that need to withstand sanitary washdowns. IP68 certifies protection against submersion in water.
  • IK10 and IK10+: The impact protection (IK) rating signifies the degree of protection provided by an enclosure against external mechanical impacts. In other words, this rating determines the camera’s level of impact and vandalism protection.

Jumbi Edulbehram (jedulbehram@oncamgrandeye.com) is regional president – Americas at Oncam.

This article originally appeared in the spring 2019 edition of SIA Technology Insights.

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