Security Digest

What To Look For in a Fiber Optic Sensor

Fiber optic distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) is an ideal technology for physical security applications. With coverage distances in the tens of kilometers and the ability to detect, locate, and classify disturbances to within a few meters, DAS-based perimeter intrusion detection sensors protect critical infrastructure and high-value facilities around the world, including energy generation and distribution sites, data centers, distribution centers, correctional facilities, and major transportation hubs.

In this article, we look at key features facility owners and system integrators should consider when selecting a fiber optic-based sensor to detect perimeter intrusions at their site.

FiberPatrol is suitable for fence, wall, and buried intrusion applications

FiberPatrol is suitable for fence, wall, and buried intrusion applications. It can also be used to detect third-party interference against buried pipelines and communication data lines.

Performance Considerations

Modern fiber-based sensors typically support detection over extended distances, making them ideal for large perimeters. In addition, fiber optic fibers are immune to lightning strikes, EMI interference, intrinsically safe in explosive atmospheres, and made from non-conductive materials. Ideally, a fiber optic perimeter intrusion detection system should use industry-standard telecom-grade cables as they offer 20+ year lifespans, are available from multiple vendors (provided specifications are met), and support different deployment requirements, including low-smoke zero-halogen and armored versions.

Fiber optic systems are well-known for their ability to detect the smallest of disturbances over long distances. However, without properly designed detection algorithms and experiential intelligence, a fence-mounted sensor can potentially generate nuisance alarms due to environmental effects like wind as well as excessive fence fabric movement caused by poorly maintained or damaged fences.

Senstar’s FiberPatrol fiber optic sensor builds on over 40 years of experience to minimize nuisance alarms, ensuring that generated alarms receive required and immediate attention. To avoid nuisance alarms while maintaining maximum detection capabilities, FiberPatrol includes the following key features:

  • Environmental disaggregation: The unique ability of a fence-mounted sensor with ranging (i.e. locating) capabilities to avoid the generation of nuisance alarms caused by heavy winds. Heavy winds can create vibrations unevenly across the fence fabric within a zone, which, depending on the system, may appear as an intrusion attempt and trigger an alarm.
  • Advanced pattern recognition: Experiential intelligence and highly tuned algorithms ensure that actual intrusions (even simultaneous ones in different locations) remain detected while distributed disturbances like wind and rain are ignored.
  • Pre-configure fence settings: Installing a fence sensor shouldn’t require a PhD in advanced fiber optics. That’s why Senstar includes pre-configured settings for specific fence types and walls, ensuring a system can be installed and brought online as quickly as possible.
  • Frequency filters: Advanced visualization graphs along with extensive logging capabilities enable advanced users to tweak adjust the sensor’s frequency filters to ignore known sources of vibrations such as roads or train tracks.

In addition, FiberPatrol’s precision locating capabilities help installers and maintenance staff to quickly identify problematic spots on the fence, repair it when possible, and use its software-defined zones to adjust detection parameters if required. Software-defined zones can also be used to adjust detection parameters if the sensor cable changes installation media, such as moving from a fence to wall, or from an above ground to buried application.

Integration Considerations

A key requirement of any perimeter intrusion detection sensor is how it integrates with overall site security. Early detection at the perimeter is critical, but so is immediate notification and assessment capabilities, such as centralized alarms and automated surveillance camera callup. Key integration considerations include:

  • Complexity: Can the sensor’s main processing unit communicate directly with the site’s security system or are separate gateway-style devices required? In addition, is there remote access for configuration and maintenance that meets cybersecurity best-practices? Senstar’s FiberPatrol includes all necessary gateway software, Ethernet support, and has been penetration tested (PEN test) by a qualified third party.
  • Certification and support: To avoid integration headaches and ensure meaningful technical support over the long-term, look for vendors that offer certified integrations. Senstar offers certified integrations with industry-standard security and video management systems (SMS/VMS), ensuring your investment is protected and any problems are quickly resolved.
  • Advanced features: Integration is more than simply triggering a zone alarm after a detection. Senstar offers integrations via its open API and Common Operating Platform that include the reporting of precise intrusion locations, full system redundancy, sensor fusion engine, alarm logic engine, and cut immunity, features simply not possible via a basic I/O setup.
FiberPatrol provides a visual display of sensor response data

In addition to reporting intrusions by zone, cable distance, or GPS coordinates, FiberPatrol provides a visual display of sensor response data.

A Vendor You Can Trust

Senstar products have been protecting critical assets around the world for over 40 years. Key to our longevity and success is the ability to deliver leading-edge security and risk management solutions, backed by deep industry knowledge and world-class support. For information on how fiber optic sensors can protect your site, contact your local Senstar representative.