Power mast

Success Story: Video surveillance at SpotterRF Keeping the power grid safe from attack

Protecting critical infrastructure from physical attacks is a growing concern. The SpotterRF compact radar systems ensure that security personnel have 100 percent coverage in all weather conditions, both day and night.

To improve the reliability of its newest compact surveillance radar system, SpotterRF partnered with IndustrialENET and Phoenix Contact. Learn about how the companies work together to ensure that monitoring systems guarding critical infrastructure never lose the power from the power supply or the communication connections.

SpotterRF customer profile

SpotterRF provides perimeter protection beyond fences for critical substations with its patented Compact Surveillance Radar (CSR) systems. CSR is a radar small enough to hold in your hand. It was designed for elite forces and is now available to electrical utility security professionals. The SpotterRF compact radar systems ensure that security personnel have 100 percent coverage in all weather conditions, both day and night.

Over the years, SpotterRF has worked closely with IndustrialENET, one of its preferred channel partners. IndustrialENET is also a Phoenix Contact system integrator. IndustrialENET is expert in delivering networking, IP video security solution for Intelligent Transportation Systems and critical infrastructure projects. They partner with premier suppliers, like SpotterRF and Phoenix Contact, to deliver a plug-and-play complete solution. Working together, IndustrialENET and Phoenix Contact partnered with SpotterRF to create an improved, extended-temperature-range interface panel that was flexible, small, and OEM-priced. The project used Phoenix Contact’s manufacturing facility and expertise, and benefited from system pricing and technical support from engineers at both IndustrialENET and Phoenix Contact.

Products from Phoenix Contact in the control cabinet

The improved reliability of the new interface panel gives utilities peace of mind

High security requires reliability

To improve monitoring at o locations, utilities and other responsible entities are looking for new options. They also face new regulations, such as NERC-CIP-014-1, which requires entities to take steps to reasonably protect against physical security attacks on the Bulk Electric Power System (BES).

Video cameras around the perimeter are an important step, but the utility must make sure the system is always available and transmitting the required data. SpotterRF and IndustrialENET had collaborated on an earlier monitoring system but wanted to improve the reliability of the system’s power supply to help clients meet NERC-CIP-014-1.

These panels are located throughout substation yards in sealed housings and are exposed to wide temperature ranges, depending on the geographic location. Many locations also experience high EMI, which can lead to signal disruption or failure.

Originally, SpotterRF created the panels in a more conventional way: by ordering the individual components, building the panels in-house, and conducting the factory acceptance testing and quality assurance testing itself. Panel manufacturing, however, was not SpotterRF’s area of expertise. The time and effort expended to build the panels distracted the team from its core business of focusing on radar.

The panel from Phoenix Contact proved to be a good solution for SpotterRF. It further improves the overall uptime of the complete system and protects the SpotterRF radars from overvoltages and interruptions in the power supply. This solution also significantly reduces the number of failures in the field.

Patented compact surveillance radar system

SpotterRF provides perimeter protection beyond fences for our nation’s critical electrical substations with its patented compact surveillance radar systems.

Custom panel with high availability

"Both the SpotterRF C20D and C40D models result from our constant quest for advancing perimeter security for partners and customers," stated Logan Harris, SpotterRF CEO. “The new interface panel developed by IndustrialENET allows clients to connect the SpotterRF radars quickly and better protect them from overvoltages on power and communication lines during inclement weather."

The new panel integrates IndustrialENET technology and SpotterRF radar with rugged cameras to protect bridges, tunnels, and electrical substations in harsh conditions.

The solution includes a system level integration with SpotterRF radar and industrial-grade cameras. The radar system can track and detect objects reliably in any visibility or environmental conditions and steer the cameras to provide visual evidence for the operators. The wide dynamic range and starlight technology allows the cameras to deliver full visual details during day or night. The camera also supports optional IR illumination, which can provide clear visual evidence even in scenes with no ambient lighting up to 365 m away. This significantly reduces install cost and camera count when combined with SpotterRF radar technology.

One C40D can cover as much area as 20 fixed thermal cameras. It works through rain, fog, and snow, and tracks any moving target in its line of sight, with ranges of up to nearly 600 m for a walking person and a field of view of 90°. A C40D weighs less than 700 g, making it easy to place anywhere on existing structures, such as poles, fences, or trees. It easily connects to existing Ethernet networks with Power over Ethernet switches, making it suitable for many applications, such as oil wells, petrochemical plants, utility substations, power plants, cellular communication towers, and mines. Both the C20D and the C40D models are RoHS compliant and have passed CE testing.

To better streamline setup and installation, the upgraded SpotterRF C20D and C40D radars include added short-circuit, overvoltage, and polarity protection. Phoenix Contact’s expertise in power reliability ensures that the system operates even in extreme conditions.

Rugged camera

Rugged camera protects bridges, tunnels, and electrical substations in harsh conditions


By working with Phoenix Contact and IndustrialENET, SpotterRF could focus on maintaining the quality of its radars while giving its customers turn-key installation and power management for SpotterRF radars, cameras, and more. The user simply has to mount the control cabinet to the pole, terminate the power and the network, and the shield housing does the rest.

"This new panel meets our high standard for providing critical system networking with high availability video surveillance," stated Jon Amack, EE, IndustrialENET President. "Using Phoenix Contact’s world-class manufacturing resources, we can offer the highest standard of protection for SpotterRF solutions at very competitive prices."

SpotterRF radically reduces the risk of repeat attacks experienced by the electricity industry. The improved reliability of the new interface panel gives electric utility operators even more peace of mind that their monitoring systems will operate even through harsh conditions.