Weathering the Storm: Selecting Security Solutions for Harsh Environments

Discussions of global warming aside, just about everyone can agree that the weather and environmental conditions are ever changing and have become a major consideration when putting together specifications for a security system.

While much attention is paid to what physically needs to be secured and the best cameras, readers and sensors to achieve this, none of that will matter much if the products chosen aren’t up to rigors of temperature, wind, rain, snow and sea.

With the need to secure just about everything these days, it is incumbent on integrators, installers and security personnel to select equipment that can truly weather the storm. The growing emphasis on perimeter security has shifted the focus to not only what works for interior settings, but what is feasible for the exterior as well. And these may not always be the same products.

The oil industry is a good example of where security equipment needs to stand up to varying extreme weather security - Tyco Security Productsoutdoor conditions. A pipeline running through Alaska or Canada will require cameras that can operate in freezing temperatures as well as work through icing/thawing conditions. An oil rig in the sea, however, presents a different scenario that calls for equipment designed to handle corrosive salt water, high winds and varying hot and cold conditions. And desert-based oil refineries present yet another challenge from sand, wind and extreme heat.

Fortunately, the security industry has been responding to the needs of customers operating in these harsh environments by developing products with special enclosures and even tablet-style technology that work well in these conditions.

So what should specifiers be looking for? In selecting appropriate products it becomes necessary to identify those that can operate in the appropriate temperature range, have dustproof or non-corrosive housings and are UL certified for operating in extreme conditions. Readers can be especially vulnerable because of their location and frequent use, so it’s important to make a good choice here.

It also is important to look at the make up of the building or structure itself and whether the cameras, readers or other equipment can be adequately mounted to the wall, fence or door.

Sometimes the desire to adopt the newest technology needs to be set aside in these unique settings. The enticement of wireless locks may be great from a system standpoint, for instance, but as yet most don’t have the same waterproof and dustproof capabilities of the more seasoned traditional keypads.

Some of the other newer systems, such as facial recognition or hand readers, also require more pristine environments and may not be the right choice for a weather-challenged site, despite their advanced security offerings.

What it comes down to in the end is doing the due diligence on the site, defining the requirements, reviewing the conditions and physical setting and then specifying those products that can perform best. Then let the rain, snow and winds come — you’ll be ready.

How do you go about selecting the right access control system for a harsh environment?

Check out SDM Magazine’s recent article titled “9 Tips for Tough Access Control Spots.”

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