Partner perspective: Southwest Microwave

December 8, 2015 Maira Zanrosso

Airport SecurityA terrorist will attempt to access the air transportation system at its weakest point. At many of the world's airports, this point is the perimeter, which is often extensive and under-protected. As security concerns escalate, airports worldwide are calling for intelligent perimeter fence detection systems to secure their sites against unauthorized entry, protect critical infrastructure and keep passengers safe.

What makes a fence detection system 'intelligent'?


Securing an airport perimeter is not an easy task. Fence quality degrades. As an airport grows, the protected area may be expanded with different fence types, and achieving uniform sensitivity on fencing of varying conditions or fabric is nearly impossible using traditional fence sensors. Without extensive investment in fence upgrades, the results are high nuisance alarm rates and unreliable intruder detection.

Southwest Microwave's INTREPIDTM MicroPointTM II has a built-in failsafe against these challenges - a technology called Sensitivity LevellingTM - which calibrates the system in 1 meter increments on installation to compensate for variations in fence quality or material. The system's alarm threshold correlates with measured detection sensitivity at each cell, guaranteeing consistent performance.


Because airports are often situated in expansive open areas, they are particularly affected by adverse environmental conditions. For airports regularly facing harsh climatic extremes, minimizing weather-generated alarms is essential. To traditional fence sensors, wind and rain equate constant nuisance alarms. As a result, these systems recommend lowering of detection sensitivity to avoid environmental disturbances, but this also masks detection of fence attacks.

MicroPoint II relies on patented Point Impact DiscriminationTM technology, which discerns between legitimate intrusion attempts and distributed disturbances such as high wind, pelting rain or even aircraft vibration, so that detection is optimized while nuisance alarms are prevented. The system is unaffected by airport or aircraft radar systems.


MicroPoint II is a proprietary sensor cable tie-wrapped to the perimeter fence to detect cut or climb attacks. Each 400-metre section of cable is associated with a proces­sor module. Power, communications and alarm data are networked from the first processor to subsequent modules within the system, and integrated into a facility's Physical Security Management System (PSIM), such as Genetec Security Center

To assure precise location of incursions, detection zones as short as 3 meters may be assigned via system software and tied into camera presets to optimize CCTV assessment capability. Specifying short detection zones ensures high-res­olution assessment - an important component of an airport perimeter protection plan and particularly critical when visibility is reduced. 

With MicroPoint II, an alarm is triggered when a cut or climb attempt occurs, directing cameras to the precise point of attack and allowing authorities to assess disturbances from the control room versus allocating costly resources for remote patrols that delay incident evaluation. 


Being modular and extremely cost-effective over distance, airports can easily introduce MicroPoint II to cover critical sections of perimeter fence and affordably expand usage over time. Alternatively, the system can be em­ployed in other vulnerable airside applications, such as fuel storage depots or hangars, networking successfully with Southwest Microwave's buried RF sensors for early-warning detection, and digital K-Band microwave sensors for gates, rooftops and aircraft stop bar control applications.

Learn more about Southwest Microwave's perimeter detection solutions and about the Genetec Security Center MicroPoint plugin to incorporate intelligent perimeter detection into an airport protection strategy.


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