Sensor and Information Management Systems for the Protection of Infrastructure and Assets
GIT SECURITY: Mr. Rumpf, Mr. Rosenbusch, first of all, last year ended on a sad note with the death of Peter Göring shortly before his planned retirement. This was not only sad for Senstar but also for the security industry as a whole.
Michael Rumpf: The sad news of the death of Peter Göring hit us all in the company hard – from a personal and also a professional point of view. Mr. Göring was responsible at Senstar for sales in the EMEA region for more than 20 years, had made a significant contribution to the success and growth of the company and, as the technical manager for the region, was always available with good advice. Those are really big footsteps to follow.
Mr. Rumpf, you are taking over the company management after Mr. Göring.
Michael Rumpf: We have been preparing the structural changes for about a year already. I have been the registered Managing Director since the 1st January and Mr. Rosenbusch will now completely take over the sales management of the DACH region. We are sure that these organizational changes will allow Senstar to meet its stated targets, and that they will enable more scalability.
Which matters will be in the focus of your strategy now as the new CEO?
Michael Rumpf: We will definitely continue to concentrate on the organic growth of Senstar in Germany and Europe. There will be a few new positions to fill in the coming year in sales, business development and also in the engineering departments. In addition, we want to strategically align our products and the structure of Senstar more closely with our target markets. This includes implementing projects in the critical infrastructure, oil and gas, and penal justice sectors as well as the large logistics segment. It is particularly important for us to maintain and strategically grow our network of partners in these sectors. New products for these markets are constantly being developed together with our parent company in Canada.
Senstar and its products are concentrated on a number of vertical markets. You just mentioned that critical infrastructure, and in particular energy and water supply systems, are very important. Could you tell us more?
John Rosenbusch: The KRITIS sector [CRITical InfraStructure] has been a prime market for us for a number of years. We have a large choice of solutions to protect the perimeters of our critical infrastructure customers that alert proactively and with the minimum of false alarms. Designing our perimeter protection systems is unbeatably easy to do and highly efficient. The various types of technology can be scaled to any size depending on requirements.
We have provided a large number of fence detection systems over the past few years, particularly for solar energy generation plants throughout Europe, among them the Solarpark Tázlár, which is the largest in Hungary with a generation capacity of ca. 60 MW. Our fence and ground detection systems are also used to secure electricity substations, gas pumping stations and underground gas storage facilities. We work closely together with the operators of such power and gas networks. But water and effluent treatment stations and even nuclear power sites are also protected by Senstar systems.
Before we talk about specific solutions, let us first consider your product portfolio: You say that you keep the largest portfolio of products in the security industry – what does that mean exactly?
John Rosenbusch: Senstar probably does have the largest choice of detection systems in the security market. It is all there, from the various fence detection systems, and the microwave barriers to secure open spaces, through to the buried detection systems. The systems have such a precise signal evaluation that an intruder can be pinpointed down to one meter accuracy. The highlight is the fiberoptic detection solution that can reliably protect up to 80 kilometers with one system. This technology is also used to detect leaks in pipelines or to protect telecommunications networks. And on top there is our Symphony Common Operating Platform that unifies video management, AI-supported video analysis, access control, business intelligence and of course our sensors, all in one user-friendly presentation. The development and manufacture of all our products takes place exclusively in Canada and the USA. We support our customers locally with the planning of their systems and comprehensive solutions.
Senstar is particularly notable for its involvement in the subject of video analysis. You acquired the specialists Aimetis a few years ago for this...
Michael Rumpf: Mr. Rosenbusch and I both used to work for Aimetis and built a strong partner network for VMS and video analysis. The merging of the two Canadian companies Aimetis and Senstar, both with a similar philosophy, was a very good decision strategically. The portfolios of both companies complement each other perfectly and have allowed us to develop a very fruitful synergy over the past few years. Our long-term partners in particular have benefitted because the experienced resources of both companies have made it possible for us to develop hybrid system designs that seamlessly integrate the various detection systems and video management, including video analysis. Such systems are extremely efficient and economical as pure video solutions.
This has become a Senstar specialty that you call Sensor Fusion or a hybrid concept – it also means that you combine the positive characteristics of video analysis and fence detection systems and suppress the negative ones. How does it look?
John Rosenbusch: Sensor Fusion is the logical development of such a hybrid concept. The metadata of the video and fence analysis are combined using AI to reduce the level of false alarms to almost zero. The Sensor Fusion engine is more than just a simple Boolean logic integration: It uses low-level data to intelligently identify potential risks. Through this data synthesis, the system can reach a high level of performance that lies above that of the individual sensors.
This has immediate, practical advantages for security applications, namely the ability to maximize the strengths of individual types of sensor and simultaneously to avoid their weaknesses. When the signal reaction data of the external sensors are synthesized with the video analysis data, false alarms caused by wind or shadows are practically eliminated, while the high probability of detection is maintained. We have managed to create a new type of product that has not been available on the security market to date.
Let us compare the perimeter protection requirements, say, of a logistics company with storage space and everything with that of a gas-driven power station or an electricity substation: An important aspect of any security solution here is being able to guarantee continued operation. That probably means that you apply everything that your portfolio has to offer for such situations...?
Michael Rumpf: There are no major differences here. The level of protection required in the logistics industry is similarly high. There are goods of enormous value, dangerous goods and vehicles in logistics warehouses and distribution centers that must be protected against theft or manipulation. In the KRITIS industry, you also want to protect the systems for similar reasons and to reliably detect intruders as early as possible. That is why redundant systems are often set up. In most cases, a combination of fence and buried detection is installed and these systems are supported by video surveillance.
We work closely with the manufacturers of fencing systems, in particular on projects for critical infrastructure. For example, we recently provided a concept for a German energy supplier where a special wire mesh fence was designed that is extremely difficult to break through or to climb. The fence elements were constructed so that our sensor cable could be threaded through. This allows events on the fence to be reliably detected and the detection system is specially protected.
Interfaces to other security systems are of course often a consideration – and also the forwarding of alarms to external security patrol services because the systems being protected are often way off the beaten track.
Could you outline one or two typical projects?
John Rosenbusch: Let us stick with a classic one – the solar energy site. These are typically surrounded by a wire mesh or palisade fence. Small systems have a circumference of 2 to 3 km, large systems often some 20 km, divided into separate fields. Our installers often use our FlexZone system to detect if an intruder is climbing over a fence, is cutting it or breaking through. It is a very reliable system that is easy to install, and cost efficient on top of that, and therefore perfect for the budgets of solar power parks. The system is attached to the fence, while gates are monitored with wireless, solar-powered sensors. FlexZone detects intruders in a fenced area and reports the event with closed contacts or via an interface to a superordinate video system. This automatically points a PTZ camera to the corresponding alarm zone and the security staff quickly have all the information they need to see what is happening. The alarm system on the fence only needs very little electricity and can be operated on emergency power without a problem for long periods.
Do you have another example?
John Rosenbusch: Another interesting example would be the protection of pipelines and communication networks. Pipelines or cableways for data communication are often buried over long distances. But these routes must also be protected against sabotage or damage by trenching work. Our FiberPatrol system can monitor up to 100 km of these routes. The system can distinguish machinery trench works at up to 30 meters distance, the movement of heavy vehicles, or the movement of people from the general background vibrations in the ground and reports an alarm including the respective GPS coordinates if the detection criteria are met. This allows potential damage to, or intervention in, the network to be quickly and reliably detected and prevented.
You maintain relations with a number of (technology) partners to achieve this. Who might this include?
Michael Rumpf: When various security systems have to work together, then the whole must be reliable, error-free and, above all, must function for the longest possible time. So we work closely together with various partners in the sector and create the interfaces between our systems. A good example of this is Advancis who offer interfaces to their Winguard solution not only for our detection systems but also to our video management systems. Naturally, there are many partner firms who provide network cameras, such as Axis or Hanwha. Competition aside, we have technology partnerships with companies like Bosch, Genetec and Milestone to make the messages from our PIDS system accessible in their management software. One of our most recent partnerships is with Wasabi Technologies, and this now allows our VMS customers to store their video data in the cloud in accordance with data protection regulations.
Mr. Rosenbusch, Mr. Rumpf, after what can only be called an eventful year in 2022, what will Senstar be prioritizing this year?
Michael Rumpf: As in previous years, we will have to keep the company and our products adapted to developments in the commercial environment and the security situation. Even though it now appears that the general availability of components has improved, it is still a concerning matter that costs us a lot of work and calls for good planning in order to be able to supply our customers without delays. Otherwise, we have a number of projects to complete and we have to find the right people for our organic growth. The year will be exciting because there will be many new developments, particularly in video analysis and AI, and we want to take our partners and end-users along with us on the journey.