Did you hear the one about the bear that nearly caused a nuclear catastrophe?
It was in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A guard at Volk US Air Force Base – home to a number of armed nuclear bombers – spotted a shadowy figure apparently attempting to scale the fence. The supposed Soviet saboteur tripped the alarm, which was fatefully miswired, triggering a maneuver to scramble US interceptor jets to shoot down incoming enemy nuclear bombers. There were more American armed nuclear bombers already in the air nearby – the scene was set for a friendly fire incident of nuclear proportions.
Just before the jets took off, the command center realized what happened and sent orders to stand down. Crisis averted – just. Oh – and the Soviet saboteur that tried to sneak in? It turned out to be a curious bear.
With security technology having considerably advanced since 1962, we shouldn’t see a repeat episode like that anytime soon. Today we face different threats. Our fears of international state on state conflict have been eclipsed by the threat of international terrorism, and – though military security is always crucial – protecting borders has become one of the most pressing security needs of our time.
However, there are still lessons to be learned – safety and security are impossible without smart, integrated security solutions that can work in any weather, day or night. Two notable trends are helping organisations and security integrators shore up their defenses: advances in uncooled thermal imaging technology, and the move towards a security-solutions based approach.
The advance of uncooled thermal imagery
With conflict and other crises causing mass migration of refugees around the world, the importance of border security has leapt up several places on national leaders’ agendas.
When borders stretch across hundreds or thousands of kilometers of land and sea, it can be a very difficult and expensive task to secure them.
To answer the limitations of CCD day cameras, each is mounted in tandem with a thermal camera. The decision to use thermal then begs the question: cooled or uncooled cameras? Cooled cameras undisputedly give the best performance, offer unmatched distance visibility, and are more user-friendly than ever before. Whereas once a cooled camera would require a tank of cooling liquid nitrogen or similar substance, now electric systems – much like a fridge – keep the camera cool.
Uncooled thermal cameras, coupled with cutting edge analytics applied to the image data, are capable of covering huge distances like never before – up to fifteen kilometers away. This allows for fewer, cheaper, lower-maintenance cameras, hugely reducing the total cost of ownership when extrapolated across hundreds or thousands of kilometers.
When then taken by a system integrator and combined with other security equipment such as ground sensors, motion sensors and patrol cars, modern uncooled camera systems create a compelling holistic border security solution. And these systems would have revealed the Volk bear’s furry identity pretty quickly – avoiding a near disaster in the process.
Smart systems are integrated systems
But land and sea borders aren’t the only places countries need protection. Think about airports for a moment: some of the most security-conscious civilian transit sites in the world. They too, need efficient and cost-effective border security, and stand to benefit hugely from advanced uncooled thermal imagery solutions. They’re also a good illustration of why integrated security systems are vital. Following the tragic events of 9/11, the focus shifted to individual security – stopping the passage of dangerous individuals and items onto planes. However, in recent years we’ve seen terrorists resort to cruder, less easily managed methods of destruction, such as vehicular and lone gunman attacks.
The challenge for system integrators is to deliver systems that handle a range of threats. To that end, it’s imperative that thermal cameras, CCTV cameras, radar, motion sensors – everything – are linked to a control terminal, informing and updating security personnel and creating a comprehensive picture of the security network in real time.
System integrators have more choice than ever before when it comes to building these integrated solutions. In fact, rather than sourcing individual components from individual manufacturers and agonizing over esoteric operating systems and protocols when trying to link them, they can now choose from complete, integrated, interoperable security solutions, making life infinitely easier.
Today, these two trends of advanced uncooled cameras and the easy integration of multiple systems, allow system integrators to build powerful connected systems to keep us all safe. After all, there are much more dangerous things out there than curious bears.