Our friends in Moore County North Carolina are likely having a tough time reading this digital article. On Saturday, December 3, in a targeted attack, their electrical HVTS substation was knocked off line by gunmen in an act of sabotage. This heinous act has left over 30,000 without heat, light, electricity for cooking and cleaning, and left many vulnerable to looters and additional violence. According to Moore Country Sheriff Ronnie Fields “these domestic terrorists knew exactly what they were doing” though no one, as of the time of this publication, seems to know why someone would do such a thing. In this edition of Watch Out we explore the need and ability to protect physical security across the energy industry.
An HVTS, high voltage transmission station, is the routing source that directs the flow of electricity supply to perimeter areas from the main station. If the electricity were a heart, substations could be considered veins, delivering the right voltage, at the right time, to keep all areas of a city, rural communities and outskirts vibrantly alive. Knocking an HVTS out of commission in violence is rare. The last significant US attack was in 2013 when multiple armed assailants opened fire for 19 full minutes on a Metcalf California substation, located just off a freeway. Nearly $50 million dollars of damage was done, leaving thousands without power for a brief period of time. Since then, these types of attacks have been relatively uncommon at least domestically thanks in part to the regulations set forth by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission known as the FERC and bulk physical security mandates from NERC.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean things will stay quiet. Industry challenges, innovation and costs pose significant threats to the future of grid security. There are more than 55,000 transmission substations across the United States. Most are custom-built by just a few manufacturing companies, and through the years have grown increasingly outdated, inefficient and difficult to staff. Between a 50% retirement reduction in the next ten years combined with insufficient qualifications, certification and educational gaps as recognized in the 2017 US Energy and Employment Report, finding humans to do the work will be challenging and expensive. Does this open the door to alleviate human burden with support from artificial intelligence, including physical security assistance? Yes. Many of these sites remain unstaffed by live guards and are protected by little more than a chain-link fence and security camera.
According to Paul Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense, now president of risk assessment firm, Cloud Peak Analytics, shared with the WSJ, “The power grid, built over many decades in a benign environment, now faces a range of threats it was never designed to survive,” While obvious locations in populous areas pose less risk, industry experts are right to surmise substations farther from police response, could face longer attacks with rippling consequences up and down the coasts.
The FBI investigators handling the attack on the North Carolina HVTS have said the terrorists knew exactly where to shoot, and with what frequency, to achieve the destruction they desired. Tragically, if not infuriatingly, there is no shortage of examples across America where gun violence has caused irreparable destruction across our communities. And while the weapon of choice may be incredibly difficult to detect, it is no longer difficult to detect a human person in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Proactively. Before they have the opportunity to make good on their horrible intent.
Security cameras alone cannot keep people safe. Worth repeating. A security camera is only as good as the accuracy and speed of the response to an intrusion. An unmonitored camera is as successful in communication as an unanswered phone.
Artificial intelligence elevates the efficacy of a security camera by providing non-human eyes to stand guard, 24/7, to expand visibility of the perimeter. A device such as the Camect Smart Camera Hub, connected to the camera network, is designed to capture instant, proactive objects such as person, van, truck and more. These specific alerts are then sent to an individual, a command center, or a proactive video monitoring center for instant, real time assessment and response. The low-power device is not dependent on AI analysis in the cloud as it is not cloud based, thus making it a highly successful solution for rural and remote areas, deemed most vulnerable. Think about the efficacy of Camect not only to detect people where they shouldn’t be but also to prevent vandalism and theft from unsecurable sites such as HVTS and construction sites. According to the Department of Energy in 2020 copper theft alone from construction and electrical units cost US businesses over $1billion in lost production.
It seems nearly impossible to try and understand why vandals would deliberately thrust a community into darkness, into freezing temperatures, weeks before the holiday no less. However what is not impossible is to cost effectively, and proactively spot said person, from a distance, in the darkness, through rain, sleet and snow, before they are able to proceed in future acts of senseless, heinous destruction.
Let’s work together to keep the lights bright. Watch Out for each other and our next issue. If you are able to help the Moore County community please consider making a donation of goods and or services. As always please share comments or questions. If there are any topics you would like covered, or want your story featured on our page please message me to set up an interview.
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We do this by adding intelligence to your existing security camera. Without Camect, a regular security camera is nothing but empty, electronic eyes with a memory. It can't tell the difference between a plant and a person. The camera simply detects motion, records it, then sends a clip. This clip must be reviewed by real human eyes to assess if it is a real threat, or well, just nothing. Fortunately it is usually nothing, but unfortunately that "nothing" costs time, attention and in some cases, sleep.
The founders of Camect created a better way to look only at something specific.
With a proactive approach to detection our intelligent software can detect, with over 99.5% accuracy, over 30 unique objects. Only the images you deem threatening, or interesting, are instantly transmitted. You will see the action in real time and can use an audio talk down, or siren to deter criminals. And yes, you got it! That means you are never bothered by things like bees buzzing or plants blowing in the wind. Your video is also stored on premises, not in a cloud. This offers you more security by reducing the risk of a privacy breach.