Gasunie’s gas grid safeguarded with GEUTEBRÜCK GeViScopes

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With over 15,000 kilometres of pipeline in the Netherlands and northern Germany, dozens of installations and approximately 1,300 gas receiving stations, Gasunie operates one of the largest high pressure, gas pipeline grids in Europe. Its annual gas throughput totals approximately 125 billion cubic metres and its network forms the core of what is called the northwest European 'gas roundabout’.

Gasunie operates a rolling programme of infrastructure expansion and modernisation, which naturally applies to its security systems too.  Video surveillance has been playing an increasingly important part in protecting its most significant sites in recent decades, particularly because of its role in alarm verification.  Gasunie is a long term user of GEUTEBRÜCK digital video products having always had GEUTEBRÜCK recording hardware and software at heart of its cctv system.

Gasunie’s sites vary in function and size.  Some are very small, remote and rarely visited.  Others occupy several hectares and are routinely staffed by dozens of Gasunie employees as well as external contractors.  Since 1988 the company’s strategy has been to install technical security systems and centralize the site security. Depending on the site, the security infrastructure ranges from simple fencing to sophisticated fence systems with perimeter detection systems and CCTV.  “The fundamental requirement at every location is that unauthorized intruders are always identified as fast as possible at the perimeter,” explains Reiner Woldring, Gasunie’s corporate security advisor.

“Where necessary there are two high fences with alarm systems on the outer fence,” elaborates Herman von Hierden, a member of Gasunie’s electrotechnics, instrumentation and process control department.  “That way unauthorized intrusion can be detected even earlier.”

Security processes such as controlling the access of authorized staff and the verification and tracking of alarm reports following the detection of an intrusion event are all coordinated from the 24-hour Groningen control centre.  CCTV systems operate at 25 sites. “We need the camera pictures for verifying the alarm reports which may need to be followed up by the police or another special guarding service,” reports Reiner Woldring.  “We don’t do a full preventative evaluation of the images.  We no longer have guards with dogs on site who could take a look when a detection report comes in.  Instead we rely on camera surveillance.  For this we need good quality cameras, reliable transmission and storage of camera pictures as well as user-friendly functions for calling up the pictures in the alarm centre.”

At Gasunie the complete security system for all sites is now IP-based.  “Even the old analogue camera system has been modernized”, continues Herman van Hierden, “so that we now have the same standard across the whole country on all sites.  There used to be sites with 30-40 analogue cameras which still couldn’t provide any usable quality pictures.  So even though the detection was very reliable, it was not always easy to verify the detected events.  Now we work with a lot fewer cameras per site, and most of them can be remote controlled from the centre.“ Control centre staff now call up camera images in real time and can immediately replay the recorded footage whenever there is an alarm.

Local system integrators Alphatron and Strukton Systems have been responsible for upgrading the cameras and remain responsible for the maintenance of the alarm centre systems.  They replaced the old X.25 data network with a broadband Ethernet connection and the old Pegasus transmission system with a modern GeViScope platform to which all cameras are connected.

At remote sites nocturnal camera surveillance is made possible by automatically controlled lighting.  Data connectivity at remote sites has always been a challenge.  “The limited bandwiths available between headoffice and some of Gasunie’s remoter gas pumping locations generate perfect environments for GEUTEBRÜCK equipment to demonstrate its efficient bandwidth management,” grins Koen Pelle, GEUTEBRÜCK country manager for the Netherlands.

GeViScope video platforms are fully integrated into the Gasunie security management system which it developed itself.  Multi-system integration is vital, for instance to ensure that the camera system can be linked to the access control systems - so staff in the control centre can know at any given moment how many and which people are present at which site.

“All site visitors have to present their passes on arrival,” explains van Hierden. “This goes for people from third party companies as well as our own staff.  Anyone who has not obtained a visitor’s permit in advance cannot enter the site.  At some locations we retain remote control over access at the alarm centre.  Then the camera system is vital.  The control centre staff can tell from the permits or identity cards whether an individual has been issued with a visitor’s permit for the relevant site and they can compare the pass photo with the camera image to determine if the person present is the one who has authorization.”  Both for remote-controlled access control and for detecting an unauthorized intruder, it is important that the camera pictures are available immediately in the alarm centre.  “In practice,” Woldring adds, “it is now just a matter of seconds.  The system is set up so that when a detection event occurs in a particular sector, pictures from the cameras in that area are available straight away.

”Within the security infrastructure, sub-systems running under different operating systems operate amicably together.  Several of these technical marriages have been cemented with the help of GEUTEBRÜCK’s free software development kits and its free assistance for software developers.  “At Gasunie it is SDKs which facilitated the seamless integration which allows security centre staff for example to control their own large video wall, to manage remote PTZ cameras and to export video sequences all through their own management system’s operating interface,” explains Patric Meyer, SDK manager at GEUTEBRÜCK.

So far so good - but what would happen if there were a catastrophic failure which knocked out the Groningen control centre?  Gasunie of course has planned for that eventuality.  It has set up an equivalent security centre at an undisclosed location somewhere else in the Netherlands.  “Whenever necessary this second centre can be used to take over all duties,” confirms Reiner Woldring.