High-Security Perimeter Fence

Today's perimeter fences provide Joe with many security options at many different price points.

Joe's building is somewhat distinctive but only because it has more setback space around it and a smaller parking lot. Having passed through the gatehouse checkpoint, Joe enjoys the short tree-lined drive to the building, which is about three hundred yards from the street.

The many trees soften the property's appearance and make it look like a pleasant place to work; on a more subtle note, they also obstruct the view of the building at all points along the driveway. And the trees directly adjacent to the building are hardy orange, which are attractive but also quite thorny, to provide trespassers with a very unpleasant climbing experience. (Hawthorne bushes make a nice alternative.)

The property is bordered by the fence, with discreet No Trespassing signs placed periodically. It isn't a chain-link fence, either—it is an 8-foot, high-security, steel fence, with a K rating (a measure of how much kinetic energy, or speed plus weight, it can resist) that indicates it can stop a 15,000-pound truck going 40 miles per hour. This fence helps make sure there is only one easy way to get to Joe's building, which is by staying on the road around it until you get to the gatehouse.

"You can have beautiful, decorative fences now that are, at the same time, durable and have security features like anticlimbing and antiprying," says Steve Hunt, head of Hunt Business Intelligence in Evanston, Ill. Indeed—beauty and beast in one package, at a rate of about $100 to $400 per foot, depending on the options selected.

In fact, Joe didn't use all the security features he might have. Using an 8-foot fence (instead of a 6-footer) means it would be hard for someone to quickly leap over it, but it is certainly not impassable. He also selected a straight picket, not curved at the top or tipped with triple points—which would be more difficult to surmount but also would have cost more and would have made it more obvious to the outside observer that the building houses something valuable.

There's more than meets the eye to Joe's defensive perimeter. A 3-foot deep, foot-and-half-wide trench has been dug all the way around the boundary, then filled with concrete. Anyone with dreams of digging underneath the fence would be in for a long project. The main posts, about 10 feet apart, are set in four feet of concrete.

And if the potential intruder gave up the shovel and tried climbing instead, he would trip the FiberPatrol fiber-optic-based sensor network, alerting a guard to the location of the attempted breach. It's not quite a pinpoint system, but it would put the guard within several feet of the right spot on the fence.

The trees inside the property are set far enough back from the fence to make it unrealistic for someone to try to rope a branch and climb over, and there are no trees outside the fence. -Michael Fitzgerald

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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