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City Utilities Utilizes Thermal and PTZ Axis IP Cameras to Protect Unmanned Power Substations from Copper Wire Theft

Axis Communications, the market leader in network video, announced a model project for National Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month by highlighting the City Utilities (CU) of Springfield Missouri’s use of thermal and pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) Axis IP cameras to protect unmanned power substations from copper wire theft and improve staff safety to ensure continuous flow of electricity for customers.

With the scrap value of copper climbing to more than $3 per pound, each theft costs CU an average of $6,000 in labor and repairs. Cut wires and the risk of electrocution also puts the lives of CU staff, thieves and any curious persons. Within the first month of operation, the new IP camera system helped the utility company alert police to four separate incidents at one of the most highly targeted substations.

Axis thermal network cameras used to protect the perimeter can detect potential intruders at night while high resolution IP cameras provide visual verification to help reduce false alarms.

“Given that copper thieves generally hit our substations under cover of darkness, the Axis thermal cameras help us detect suspicious movement and the Axis PTZ cameras give us enough detail about attire to help law enforcement apprehend intruders,” said Nick Rasey, manager of physical security, City Utilities of Springfield.

CU worked with Springfield, Missouri-based systems integrator NetWatch, Inc. to create a comprehensive, yet cost-effective digital video security system with a combination of thermal and day/night Axis network cameras. AXIS Q1921-E Thermal Network Cameras allow the community-owned utility company to remotely monitor its 47 substations from a central location 24 hours a day without the added cost of lighting. For substations located in residential areas, the thermal cameras also help CU avoid any concerns about light pollution.

“Several years ago we knew thermal technology would someday play a role in professional physical security. Axis’ launch into thermal cameras [in 2010] expedited this prediction by making the technology more affordable and easier to use with more options than ever before,” said Matt Lackrone, president, NetWatch, Inc. “Perimeter security and detection is a major goal in most surveillance applications and now we can couple traditional surveillance attributes with affordable thermal cameras with native IP technology to achieve a higher degree of detection discernment.”

The recent Presidential proclamation declaring November 2013 National Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month stressed that infrastructure was the “backbone of our national and economic security,” and its protection is essential to the future health and stability of the nation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation identified copper theft in particular as a threat to the country’s electrical infrastructure – both in terms of the flow of electricity and cost of repairs. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported more than 32,000 claims for copper theft from 2010 to 2012 – a 36 percent increase from 2009 to 2010.

“The federal government’s recognition of and dedication to critical infrastructure security is a testament to the importance of these assets and supporting systems for our nation’s economy, security and health,” said John Merlino, business development manager, government programs, Axis Communications, Inc. “City Utilities of Springfield is truly leading by example through their innovative IP video surveillance system and proactive approach to identify, disrupt and prevent threats to critical infrastructure.”

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