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Hello, everyone. Welcome to today's webinar titled Using the latest technologies to detect and mitigate substation threats. Today's webinar is sponsored by Systems With Intelligence.
I'm Teresa Hansen. I'm the Vice President of content here at T&D World and I will be hosting today's webinar.
We have with us today Angelo Rizzo who is the President and CEO of Systems With Intelligence. Angelo has more than 20 years of experience in the electric utility and industrial automation industries. And he has been instrumental in developing and supplying leading edge technology solutions for electric utility customers in the areas of protection relay network communications and asset monitoring systems. Before becoming President and CEO at Systems With Intelligence, Angelo held senior commercial and technical positions at Ruggedcomm and General Electric.
Also joining us today we have John McClean, who is the Director of Business Development at Util-Assist. John is the former vice president of centralized operations services for electric utilities. He has 35 years of experience in the electric utilities operations generation, transmission and distribution businesses. John's focused on leveraging technology scale and process improvements to advance utility operations in the areas that included system control, protection and control station sustainment network metering and emergency preparedness. During his time in electric John collaborated with utility assist on several innovative initiatives, including power assist and secure assist. So gentlemen, welcome. It's great to have you here today. Now I'm going to turn the program over to you, Angelo to get us started, and I'll be back when we begin q&a.
Thanks, Teresa. And thank you, everyone for joining us today on this webinar.
Using the latest technologies to detect and mitigate substation threats. Why monitor the substation? When we discuss remote substation monitoring with utility customers, they usually are thinking about monitoring their stations for security.
Their strategies are typically focused on safety and security for the public and their employees. They want to reduce the amount of vandalism, theft, or equipment damage while reducing any potential outages caused by unauthorized intruders.
Over the last decade, utilities have realized that there are systems available in the market that can be implemented and used for dual purposes, such as security and asset monitoring. Touchless monitoring solutions are being implemented with sensors and software to monitor the health and condition of sites to help utilities reduce the operations and maintenance costs while extending the life of their assets.
With the appropriate sensors and software, you can choose to configure a system to do one or the other or a combination of both depending on priorities and budget. Each solution has its own set of features and allow the utility to see benefits right away.
Let's have a look at some of the benefits of implementing a touchless monitoring solution. Here are some numbers that highlight the benefits of substation monitoring.
- We have seen utilities report that they have prevented up to 15 million in losses from potential transformer failures by implementing a monitoring strategy of their transformers and its subsystems, which identified early warning of an impending failure. This was a result of monitoring the high failure rate components such as bushings, cooling systems and load tap changers.
- Utilities have also demonstrated that they can save up to 50% in planned maintenance costs by moving to condition based maintenance practices versus traditional time-based maintenance. With the correct implementation utilities can expect to reduce breakdowns by up to 20% by receiving real time health statuses on equipment. By having such a system in place, they can perform proactive maintenance before failures occur.
- Customers have also reported a 50% reduction in travel expenses for routine maintenance inspections, as the new technology implementations can be automated with remote capabilities. With a proactive maintenance and repairs a utility can prevent millions of dollars in damages, and outages. All achievable by monitoring critical assets live 24/7 While installation costs can be a barrier of for many conventional sensors. When implementing a touchless monitoring solution, the sensors can be installed and up and running in as little as 30 minutes. With these touchless systems 100% of the site can be monitored and viewed remotely, day or night.
This presentation will cover a layered approach to physical security, the first being technology for event detection, the second for a threat response, and the third for ballistic protection.
These approaches can be applied together on their own depending on the requirements for the station, or the budget of the utility. In many cases, it is also depending on the location of the substation.
For example, an urban substation may or may not require monitoring outside the fence line, and it may be less target of a high-power ballistic attack. While the opposite may be true of a rural location. We will be more focused on the security in this presentation. But we'll highlight some of the asset monitoring aspects of such solutions as we go through it.
As we look at event detection, visual camera technology is typically used today. With Visual monitoring. All security aspects can be monitored at all times. Normally, fixed cameras monitor the fence line to detect any activity around the perimeter. Typically, you would work on a detailed site plan to help identify areas, you'd want the system to automatically detect activity. In some cases, we have found monitoring the outside of the fence is a better strategy to capture potential intruders before they approach the substation.
Coupling fixed visual sensors with high powered pan tilt zoom cameras can focus on key areas and provide higher levels of details, especially around the gates to monitor vehicles and personnel entering and exiting the station. The system can also confirm when personnel have arrived on site so we can monitor their activities for safety purposes. Visual Analytics have come a long way over the last decade and are tuned to avoid false alarms.
They also have features to be able to distinguish between a person, a vehicle or an animal. An important thing to consider when implementing a visual system at substations is that the system should be utility grade to provide the performance and reliability in extreme weather conditions along with the protection of high levels of EMI, ESD, and voltage surge interruptions.
When deploying any electronic equipment within the substation, we should follow the IEC 61850-3 and or the IEEE 1613 standard, as it takes into consideration the same readings on the protection relays to ensure the highest reliability and availability of the system.
A lot of customers have found that with the correct implementation of a visual system, they can also get the benefit for their operations team. Visual monitoring can cover for much more than just security. We have seen utilities use the visual sensors for remote inspection of their site and assets. The sensors can be programmed to automatically inspect the equipment for leakages or corrosion.
Another application of the visual technologies to confirm switch operation. The visual sensors can determine whether the switch is in an open or closed position. Here on the right-hand side, you can see how the operations team can utilize to inspect fluid levels at a specific bushing in the field. The operations team can also program the visual sensors to do automatic readings of analog gauges without having to visit sites, readings can be automatically observed and reported in a digital record to ensure that the equipment is operating with no issues. Utilizing the pan tilt zoom features.
The operations team can also do a visual patrol of the substation to ensure that there is no issues or any animal intrusion within the substation. We have seen the operations team also find areas where (bird or small rodent) nests have started to be created.
Why is infrared technology better option for security monitoring for security purposes? Infrared is a better choice for monitoring. Infrared works in adverse conditions such as rain, fog, snow, and darkness. Infrared sensors can see objects at a greater distance than visual, much better for detection at long range outside the perimeter.
In the left side image only can see shadows in a far distance. But on the right-hand side, the image is much more clearly and shows an object with a heat pattern that would be identified by motion detection analytics. Again, like visual technology, we can utilize infrared sensors for both security and asset monitoring. When monitoring the substation for asset monitoring, you would deploy an infrared sensor that has built in radiometric capabilities. These radiometric sensors provide actual temperature measurements for asset monitoring applications. As you can see here, the sensors can detect hotspots and temperature anomalies using the same technology as handheld thermal cameras that are used in periodic manual inspection.
The advantage of deploying such a system is that you can monitor the asset 24/7 under all load and environmental conditions. Utilities are utilizing this monitoring practice as an input into moving their maintenance practice from time-based maintenance to condition based. The sensor alarm and data information can be integrated directly into SCADA and asset management applications. This will help trend the asset condition allowing the utility of scheduled maintenance based on real time information from the field.
Both thermal and visual systems can be configured with an analytic feature called Object classification. This feature can identify the type of object that is triggering a motion alarm.
In the past, some operators would receive motion detection alarms from the field. These alarms would be triggered by the visual cameras as it recognized the scene had changed state. However, after reviewing the alarm, it was observed that the alarm was triggered due to either a shadow or even a bird flying by the camera view.
In some situations, we have seen where wind or snow could trigger the false alarms. Continued improvements in the area of video analytics have allowed customers to deploy these advanced analytics features that can determine if the motion alarm was triggered by a vehicle or a person. If the system is deployed and not configured with the correct triggers, it will result in many nuisance alarms. These alarms will distract operators and they will eventually start to ignore the nuisance alarms, making the site more vulnerable to threats.
Let's have a closer look at the difference between sensors and feature set. With the visual sensors, you would be able to program the system for security analytics as well as some visual inspection for asset monitoring. This would be your least expensive system to implement. When we compare the visual to the infrared cameras, they are typically a little bit higher in cost however, you get lower number of nuisance alarms. The sensors also have an advantage for longer range analytics when triggering for motion detection.
We've found that the infrared sensors are based on the same principles that the infrared cameras but have built in radiometric alarming capabilities that provide actual temperature measurements for asset monitoring applications. These sensors can detect hotspots and temperature anomalies using the same technologies as handheld thermal cameras that are used in periodic manual inspection but can monitor the monitoring 24/7 under all load and environmental conditions.
These systems protect the high value assets in the substation, and have the most impact on ensuring that utility has visibility of the condition of their asset, limiting the amount of downtime or lost revenue. When deploying such systems, we have found that deploying a distributed architecture is the most effective given that most substations are in remote locations and various sites might not have limited bandwidth. A typical architecture uses edge processing for resiliency and conservation of bandwidth. The processing recording and the alarms continue even if the network connectivity is lost. Continuous video streaming is not required because the alarms are generated at the network edge, reducing the amount of bandwidth consumption.
When an alarm is sent from the remote site. The alarm and video feed can be accessed remotely and verified with actions taken if required. Configuring the system to route alarms to appropriate operators allows the one system to be utilized for multiple purposes within the utility both for security and asset management. A critical step to deploying a successful system is to ensure you have done an engineering site plan. Here you can see the coverage from each sensor, and how many you would need to provide full coverage.
An engineered site plan is performed on all systems to ensure all Monterey garments are met. A 3D design is reviewed with clients to identify all the obstacles and blind spots are accounted for in the design. Based on the utility requirements and budget, the engineering team will determine the type of sensor and lenses to be used for optimal placement and location.
Let's go out to a substation and see how utilities utilizing the sensors in their application today. Here you have a small substation where a utility would like to monitor this station remotely and have all alarms come into their operations center. When we reviewed this station, we decided that we would use the existing pole to limit the amount of costs for installation. We decided that we would mount three sensors at the station, as this would give them plenty of visibility that the customer required. We decided to mount a thermal camera to give them full visibility of all their assets.
A visual camera that would monitor the gates of who was coming in and out of the substation, as well as a pan tilt zoom camera to allow them to do visual inspection of key components if required. The cameras are mounted on the existing pole and were powered by 120 volts AC that was found inside the substation mounted at the base with a junction box and the edge computer was mounted directly inside the electrical house, which is where the operations network was found. Edge computer was then configured to be able to give alarms directly into their operation center via SCADA system and DNP alarms.
Utility utilizes the pan tilt zoom camera to give them the ability to inspect any key components within the yard that they may be suspecting are having issues. If for example, they receive an alarm from one of the transformers, they can visually go in and have a look at a particular point of interest, let's say a bushing. But they will do have the ability to have preset setup already in place and then be able to click on that and be able to go in and zoom in on a specific piece of equipment within the yard. Here you can see you can visualize and see the oil within that bushing see if there's any potential issues or concern, as well as do a visual inspection on other key parts of the transformer for any potential issues that may arise. They have also have the ability to have up to 32 different presets within this PTZ and for instance, you can have the ability to go in and zoom in and look at other pieces of equipment within the yard. Here is an example of them looking into a primary fuse holder, again, having the ability to go in, zoom in and visually see what's going on.
The system also has capabilities as we've discussed in the previous examples of visual analytics that could be set up if needed. I can see here, you have the ability to zoom in and really get clear, fine detail of anything within the art. We can also see nameplates and gauges as discussed earlier. So here is an example of reading of a nameplate again, giving the operations team a lot of flexibility that doesn't need to go in and have a look at specific yards, they can all do this from the central area within the operation center. So you can see here fairly clear, we can actually zoom in. And if we needed to zoom in and take a snapshot of a serial number, or a specific gauge. So visibility capabilities within the substation are endless. And you can go in and reset as many opportunities as you want to inspect.
The big benefit for this customer as well is to look at the thermal characteristics within the yard and give them early warning detection on potential issues that may be found in the yard. The customer has the ability to fully control and monitor what's happening at this yard. And if they have a concern on a specific piece of equipment, they can utilize the trending capabilities found within the software. So here you have the ability to configure a thermal configuration, and essentially target what they're concerned or what they want to monitor. It's as easy as 15 seconds where you can just basically draw your targets, you would be able to save them. And you'll be able to trend. Those readings of those pieces of equipment have the capabilities of also setting up a number of different alarms to give you again, early warning detection. So if you want to look at specifically a rate of change or any unbalance, you can have the ability to set those alarms from a remote site. It's as simple as creating a rule and the rule type. And if you want to do an absolute comparison or relative change, you have the ability to configure that. Once you're done as a utility, you can go in and just replace and remove those virtual sensors. Again, it's as simple as a right click Erase, hit yes. And you can go ahead and remove those.
The beauty of the system as well is that you can reprogram the system to patrol automatically. And it's as simple as going in and configuring your presets. You have the ability to look at 32 different zones within the yard and run it automatically. You have the ability of doing a right click and enabling your sequence. Your sensor will automatically run through an automated version of targets that are preprogrammed, and now have the ability to do trending 24/7 those alarms will come into the operation center. And they can also be sent out to different pieces of equipment with or different pieces of software to give you a warning early warning detection.
Here you can see six targets, six different temperatures, different configuration of alarming system, that will all go back into the operation center via a SCADA system. Let's go over to another site and see how utilities utilizing both a visual and thermal sensor for their security monitoring.
Here you have two installations of visual and a thermal sensor for security application. Here you can see on the one you have a thermal sensor, and it's utilizing any intrusion that comes inside this yard. Analytics are set up to pick up on object or motion within the yard. And then alarms are sent to an operation center that is monitoring the system for security threats. The same time you have the ability to have a visual of an intruder when they're picked up. And did live agents have the capabilities to actually talk to the intruder via a two-way audio system. I'm going to turn it over to John McClane, who will talk a little bit more about security threats.
Good morning, everybody. My name is John McClean. I'm with Util-assist. Us. My background is with a number of utilities over the years with physical security a large part of my area of responsibilities. As such, I was very active in the energy sector security domain, participating on the security infrastructure and Protection Committee for many years with electricity Canada, I have a secret clearance from the Government of Canada. I'm registered with the RCMP integrated threat analysis center where we receive information from them. And I'm also the designated approving official for the electricity sector Information Sharing and Analysis Center.
With that, I'm going to walk through the next few slides on the threat landscape as we see it, and some of the things that we can do to help protect your most important assets are substations. There's no doubt in everybody's mind that the numbers of physical attacks on our substations is increasing. These numbers that you're seeing on the screen, have been identified by mercs, ei SOC, the Information Sharing and Analysis Center, as I mentioned, and from the DOD to form OEE for 17 submissions. And these numbers are moving one way worse.
February of last year, CBS on their 60-minute show produced a segment on physical attacks of substations how they're increasing. And that really brought the concern to the forefront of national media. And one of the things that they did not mention, but it's really coming to light and some of the analysis is going on is Who are our adversaries?
These adversaries range from those who have criminal intent, basically, looking for copper at a substation, on the fences to ground grid, all the structures, vehicles, catalytic converters, material tools, and equipment that are left there by the utility. And that really, what you're setting yourself up for in this case is it's a walk-in bank at a substation that is remotely monitored, and unattended.
They're also those sites are easy graffiti targets, especially in an urban environment where the substation building is up against the sidewalk. And anybody can quickly pull up there and do some damage to you. And there's also on the on the other side of the spectrum motivated domestic violent terrorists known as DVS. And they've got their own agendas. And let's not forget foreign actors with geopolitical agendas. And I'm sure we all remember back in 2014, the Russian hack into the Ukrainian utility that took down a number of substations so that we understand who our adversaries are, what do they know? And that's pretty important and understanding how to set up your security posture.
It's becoming more and more apparent with a number of internet postings that they understand what cascading outages are. They're learning which substations are the most critical. And they understand that substation, transformers are key, they take years to replace, and the most effective attack damages the core, not the cooling system. There's larger investments to be made, and there's incredible latency in getting the replacement. They also understand what n minus x means. The redundancy that we built into our electricity system is typically an N minus one or at best and n minus two. They understand that, you know, a single incident of outage can most likely be recovered fairly quickly by the utility but understanding taking down one or two can cause some grief as we saw in North Carolina late last year. distribution substation security is minimal because they're really not subject to security regulations, such as a NERC CIPS outages can be used to cover for other crimes.
In the Pacific Northwest before Christmas, last year, a couple of folks were taking off substation so they could perform a robbery on a bank. And we're starting to see now that outages caused by attacks are getting much more press coverage and the attention of political leadership's and quite often, governments are often being blamed for outages by the public. And unfortunately, as we're seeing right now, in the Ukraine, Russia is using electric infrastructure tax to wage war, proving that society can be destabilized at a relatively low cost. With utility control room staff under more pressure than ever to efficiently operate the electricity infrastructure. They have less time and bandwidth to act as security guards.
It wasn't that long ago that many utilities burden control room staff with all the access control features not just of substations, but operations yards, opening doors, the eats that type of thing. We train our staff very highly to operate utility electricity systems in a safe and efficient manner. With the introduction of technologies such as SCADA, OMS, and EMI, there are fewer control room staff performing this function. Outsourcing the role of security monitoring of your substations brings many other benefits.
Monthly Reporting for monitored sites incident reports, court ready detailed report should police apprehend intruders and prosecute. And not only that, as mentioned in the last bullet on the slide here, with previous technologies of motion sensing, but a lot of control room staff have also developed the cry wolf syndrome and ignoring those motion sensing alarms. The cost of a facility intrusion can be quite extensive. Every facility intrusion results in some level of damage with associated cost. Graffiti remediation can range from several hundred to thousands of dollars depending on the square footage that is mired. In addition, there may be municipal bylaws that require you to repair that graffiti within 30 days are subject to fines.
Substation fence repairs, including copper ground replacement can range from several thousands to tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the damage. Substation, structural ground repairs can cost several thousand dollar substation transformer neutral and other conductor repairs, costs in the tens of thousands of dollars. And in addition, substation isolation is required, and equipment must be tested. If a substation fire ensues, damage can rent to several hundred thousand dollars and will likely mean a transformer or two replacement, all exasperated by supply chain issues. And the soft costs can include brand impairment graffiti on your building a fire the media attention could be health and safety as the last but not least outages to your customers.
Live video monitoring brings much more value than just from a security perspective. Site specific equipment can be additionally identified for alerting when animals enter the monitored zone. In this case, while the site has all the powerful artificial intelligence analytics enabled from a security perspective, the power transformers are additionally scoped for animal incursion, typically raccoons, squirrels, skunks and possums. This posture complements value of just monitoring for security. Each site monitored has a custom-built action plan that is specific to the utility. Action plans are developed and approved by the client and parked in the security operations center application at Util-assist. When the alert is generated by the site, the action plan, the site cameras, all automatically come to the screen of the agent. The action plan is a step-by-step process to follow. Every action step taken is recorded for reporting and QA purposes. But then the action plan, Util-assist\ monitoring personnel are trained when an alarm is received assess the situation. Some of the activities they can take are turning on lights and alarms, strobes, beacons establish two-way voice communication. If in fact there is an intruder on site and perform a very powerful takedown contact local first responders and you turn utility personnel.
In that action plan, there's many factors to consider is the substation in an urban or rural environment? I confirm with the utility the actual script that we're going to use in the takedown. And then digital outputs allow you as mentioned to turn on strobe sirens additional lighting. And you need to identify in your action plan what specific lower local law enforcement ties in that area. In many cases, utilities may serve across multiple jurisdictions with different forces.
Also, what are the utilities specific instructions the order of the call, who to call first you call the utility first you call the local law enforcement. Also autogenerated reports are created for immediate issue to the utility upon the event concluding and then follow up reports are also created for court submission. Hey, you tell us we're very excited about our secure assist service and the value proposition that brings to utility throughout North America. And I'm very happy to answer additional questions at the end of the presentation. And with that, I'm pleased to turn it back over to Angelo to finish off the presentation.
Now we're going to talk a little bit about Threat Defense. Ballistic attacks are difficult to prevent even if attackers are detected. They can shoot at substations from a distance before the attack can be prevented. One solution is to protect the substation, or at least the most critical assets with a ballistic wall.
Ballistic walls are a simple, low tech barrier to prevent damage from long range attacks. Ballistic walls are a way to protect the high value assets. These ballistic walls are designed with airflow to protect equipment without affecting the operations of the equipment. They are nonconductive modular and easy to install and prevent ricochets from hitting and damaging other equipment.
Using the example, where a utility decided to install the modular walls around the whole substation protecting all the critical assets, the walls are modular and easy to install and remove. Here's another picture that shows how they can be customized for airflow and specific pieces of equipment. The walls can be equipped with sensors that detect the ballistic attacked and provide immediate notification and alarms to a monitoring center. Protect your assets by implementing a touchless substation monitoring solution today. Thank you everyone for your time. I'll turn it over to Teresa for the Q&A session.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
All right, thank you, Angelo. And John, that was a great presentation. Now we're going to go ahead and get started with the questions.
How many cameras or sensors are required for a typical substation with two transformers?
I'll take a stab at that one. That'll be dependent of the site and the actual station itself. We can have a large transmission substation, which could have a very large footprint or a small distribution substation. So typically, what the process is, is that we would work with you to develop a layout and ensure that we have the proper coverage from depending on what the customer requirements are, whether we're looking at the substation for security, intrusion, or asset management or a combination of the two. Typically, from our experience, we've seen ranges anywhere between four to six sensors should be able to give you plenty of coverage. And then depending on how sophisticated you want to get to, you know, we've seen some situations where we've gotten up to 10 sensors, but typically, four to six will be able to give you plenty of coverage.
You mentioned urban versus rural in the presentation. What exactly does that mean, in terms of secure asset live remote monitoring?
That's a really good question. We have sites that are located in cities and downtown and the challenges there are having streets busy with vehicular traffic, sidewalks, people walking their dogs, kids riding bikes, and that type of thing. What we do with our with our services, we've got the field of view, but we tighten the exclusion zone, which is where the alerts will occur very, very close to the building or the fence. Otherwise, you're going to perhaps get nuisance alarms. The balance here is to tighten that zone within a couple of feet to the substation building or wall or fence. And one of the things we're trying to prevent there potentially is, is the walls getting tagged with graffiti. We may get some alarms from somebody coming within a couple of feet, but we have all kinds of Discrimination with the technology that we're working with. And we can parse out, for instance, person and dog walking together, so it does not create an alarm. On the other side, a lot of substations are in a more rural environment. And the alarm zone is just set wide open to look at everything within that field of view that we will parse out, for instance, deer, that type of thing, wildlife, outside of the fence. With the artificial intelligence that we're using, we're programming the software for what to alert on and what to ignore.
How long would it take to get a pilot running for a site with security plus asset monitoring?
Good question. I'll take that. That'll depend on a couple of factors. One is, you know, getting approval to get to the site, and beginning installation, as well as ensuring that the equipment is available. Typically times, for the manufacturing of these devices is anywhere between four to six weeks, then an installation process could be about two weeks to get everything up and running and tested. Typical pilot could run you probably about 30 to 60 days, from the time you get everything installed. And then, you know, monitored and reviewed.
We treat all of our installations and all of our customers as a partnership. And we kind of work together to enhance the solution as well, as you know, fine tune it throughout that pilot stage. We typically recommend a distributed architecture, because it gives you a lot of that flexibility. And most of our current clients will start maybe with two stations to start with, ensure that they have a proper strategy for either the security portion of it as well as the asset management piece, and then move into into a rollout stage after they're satisfied with their requirements. So, you know, on the quick end, you can be done within 30 days of everything goes smoothly, but typically, it's 60 to 90 days.
What's the difference between a camera and a sensor?
Typical definitions in the market a camera would be for the visual aspect from a security standpoint. And when we refer to as we refer these to as sensors, and for us, there, they we refer them to as sensors because they can pick up different anomalies from the operation side of things. When we're looking at operational field of view, using a visual sensor, we're looking at picking up anomalies within that that camera slash sensor. When we add the sensing capabilities for the operation piece, this is why we refer to as a sensor.
What if there's already cameras in place at a substation, but they're not, but they're just recording? What's required to bring Util-assist in the surface?
I can start with that one
But that is a question that we get asked a lot. And it does depend on the existing cameras at a substation, and if there's a network how they're communicating. With our monitoring service, we are complementing systems with intelligence by installing a hub with the artificial intelligence installed into the site CCTV network if one exists, along with potentially a modem and a SIM card to our communications network. But as an occasional mentioned earlier, the cameras do need to be of a newer vintage, so leveraging the office standards or RTSP protocols. There might be some incremental effort from SW AI systems with intelligence to bring those up to spec. And if we need to a site CCTV local area network so that we can leverage some digital outputs to do all those wonderful things like turning on strobes and lights and what we call those deterrence when there is an intruder and one of the most effective things that we found is having a SIP capability to that site to do a very powerful takedown to intruders through these through the speakers. And so the site, it can completely deter intruder, or it can keep them engaged to allow law enforcement to get there to give law enforcement time to get there. That's a variable depending on if there is any cameras or any any equipment on site. But enjoy, I'll let you add or complement to what I just stated.
Yeah, and, as John stated, you know, for us, it depends on what the customer already has. But we've always looked at it, again, working with the client to ensure whatever investment they made in the past can be reused. And in certain situations, this is the main reason for the edge computing platform. And that really allows the customer a migration path to go from their first generation, let's say cameras that may not be substation grade, and migrate over to a substation grade that then as the abilities to do the alarming for the digital outputs and inputs that may be required. And then integration into their operation center. We have a couple of examples where we've worked with clients, they had commercial grade cameras that they were using for security. And over the three years, they had half of them fail, due to EMI you know, failure rates. We worked with them to actually put in the digital video server, and migrate them from the commercial grade products over to the substation, and hats products.
Does this use any artificial intelligence or machine learning to identify suspicious vehicles or people?
That's, that's a good question. We work with a couple of couple of vendors for what we call our hubs that we drop into the network. And what we're looking at comes with a pre canned set of object ID. There is one of our vendors does have learning but the main vendor of our hubs that we drop into complement the systems with intelligence network is loaded with hundreds of objects. It can discriminate between, as mentioned raccoons, skunks, possums, even types of say delivery vans, whether it's a FedEx or UPS. And there's all kinds of real setup, I mentioned my earlier example that you can put a person and a dog together to avoid creating a false alert. So working with the with our developers, we actually some of the things we're looking at now is drone detection, and even person with a backpack in a crowd as opposed to just people walking. So those are some of the things it's a continual learning curve, with a defined product pipeline.
I'll just, I'll just add to that, John, you know, we've always looked at the approaches have an open architecture, with allowing us to connect to different API's from different solution providers. And that's really kind of the basis and of what we started here at systems with intelligence, because over the years, you know, we have found going to site you know, there's a lot of systems that are just doing recording and didn't really have any automation associated with it. The operations team never did have access to the equipment as well, as you know, there really wasn't meant anyone even looking at the data. We always looking at what's out in the field, seeing what's been deployed and proven and seeing how we can enhance the solution. And our collaboration with Util-assist has been, you know, instrumental in ensuring that the utility is always going to have the best of class of what's in the field today.
What solutions do you have for small animals and birds? Specifically?
Yeah, that's a great question. And what we've brought into not just a security posture, but the somewhat an animal protection posture in terms of looking at, for instance, power transformers, and setting zones, inclusion zones for small animals only on that inclusion zone. In my past life, I've been subjected to some my assets, my substations, raccoons getting across a secondary bushing on a very large site. 75 MVA transformer, causing an incredible explosion in damage. And the opportunity here is to proactively identify that notify the utility that you've got a raccoon being picked up in the area of a power transformer. And quite often this happens in the middle of the night is when they seem to prowl around, and they may want to perhaps offload that transformer to the companion to load on that power transformer to the companion transformer and de energize itself, the raccoon does get up before anybody can get there. We're not causing any damage. And the same goes for birds. But predominantly, we're looking at the rodents that are that are land-based raccoons, skunks, squirrels and possums and around the energized apparatus.
Would your solution send alarms or threats to the utilities existing grid ops or security ops center?
This solution that we have that has been deployed really is solution that is sending alarms into the operation center. The alarms can be segregated depending on how the utility wants and where we want them to be routed. We have the capabilities of sending them using a DNP protocol where you can go directly into a SCADA system or an operation center, or the alarms can go into a security portal using ONVIF applications that we can integrate into. It's very flexible, highly configurable. Depending on what the strategy and what the utility wants to do, it has that flexibility. The other big advantage, I think that we have is we design and manufacture our solutions here in North America. All the design engineers are located. Depending on any customization other utility may need. The system is very flexible to do that.
Can you elaborate on the talkdown? Do intruders engage in a discussion with the monitoring team? In is the purpose to scare them away?
You've got a combination of speakers, as Angelo illustrated in one of the slides there, but and then the microphone. Depending on what the person is doing, they might actually engage back with you. And we apply very, very strong deterrence, we've got strobes. Anything you can imagine, on a digital output to turn on strobes and beacons. And you may have a homeless person that's come up in an urban environment, to your substation, or if you're in a rural environment, and it takes 20 minutes for law enforcement to get there. You're engaging them to stop what you're doing, it is a dangerous environment, that type of thing. And potentially giving more time for law enforcement to get there. You could be scaring them off. In some cases, they don't realize there's a speaker and they're being monitored. And that's a good thing to move on to the next target down the street, somebody else, but we're protecting that site.
Just to just search through so just add to what John indicated. The other thing is also is a dangerous in environment. And, you know, intruders may not realize but you know, they touch the wrong piece of apparatus and, you know, it's life threatening. Ensuring that our agents understand what the you know, pieces of equipment are no dangers is really again, another big benefit of having the secure assist monitoring it and that's something that I want to make sure everyone understands it's, it's being monitored by operations, folks, people that understand what each piece of equipment is and also the severity, if they lose that piece of equipment to the operational impact of the utility you know, losing two feet of copper is not you know, a big cost but having a floating substation and employees working on the station the next day and not being aware of it, you know, could cause a catastrophic event which is what we're really trying to avoid and make sure that the employees are safe as well as the public.
Yeah, Angelo, thank you for that because Secure Assist, which is run by our company Util-assist, as the service we only deal with utility agents receive considerable training in general utility operations, but then we developed the program for substation security training was One of North America's leading energy sector experts, so our staff have to go through that on an annual basis. And we speak the language we deal with control rooms every day. And so that's a that's a fantastic point.
You speak of trending? Does that mean the software can monitor the temperatures of a specific piece of equipment and or a specific area? To learn what is nor what is the normal variation of temperatures says an analogy? Can the software create a statistical process control file that only flags temperatures above or below the natural variation in temperature? And that results in two great benefits? One, it prevents us from entering temperature limits that we think are correct, that maybe aren't, and thereby eliminating false alarms?
That's a great question. And obviously, the person who asked the questions got a lot of experience using, thermal monitoring. What we've set out to do is yes, I've, again, as I said, the flexibility of the software, and the training capability. It is available. What will happen is you have the flexibility to alarm on different rule types and comparison of different zones, as well as you know, if there's a rate of change in a certain amount of time, so the the amount of different types of alarms are endless and can be configured. But the short answer is yes, we would be able to alarm not on a specific temperature range, but also on a rate of change or a reference point. We know what the normal condition would be OK.
Are any of your components made in China?
Oh, I'll answer that the majority of our solutions are designed and manufactured here in North America. We do have some other verticals that may require some lower components. And some of those could be branded in Asia, they're not specifically in China. But majority 90% of our hardware software, all is designed and manufactured here in North America
Do you have a small camera that can be deployed in the cabinet of the terminal box?
That's an excellent question. And we do we have a small little camera that takes snapshots that you can mount inside the cabinet. With all the communications built in, we've been doing this now, for the last 14 years. And really, our solutions come from listening to the utilities. 95% of our customers are all utilities. And we've designed that with a customer and worked with them to ensure that they have visibility of their assets inside the cabinet as well.
All right, perfect. Well, I'm afraid that's all the time we have for questions, we still have a few in the queue. And like I mentioned before, our presenters will get a list of those, and they can reach out to you individually when they have when they have a chance. But with that, I do want to thank all of you in the audience. For those great questions. It's been a great discussion is really interesting presentation. And there were some great questions in there. So thank you all for engaging with our speakers today. And on behalf of TNT world, I want to thank Angelo and John for presenting today. And also I want to thank systems with intelligence for sponsoring today's webinar. Like I said it was it was very interesting and insightful. And of course, last but not least, I want to thank all of you in the audience for joining us today, we know that you have really busy schedules. And we appreciate you taking time out for this webinar. Don't forget to be on the lookout for that email that contains the link to the archived version of today's webinar. And again, that will allow you to go back and take a look at it. It will be on the TNT world website for several months. Also, I encourage you to share that link with others who might benefit from this. It will be free, all they have to do is sign up and they can go in and watch the recording of this. So again, thanks everyone. It's been a great webinar. That concludes the webinar for today. So have a great rest of your day everyone
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