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An introduction to Monitoring Fundamentals strictly from the perspective of telecom network alarm management.

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How to Secure your OSP Infrastructure: Physical and Electronic Tools

You can't be everywhere at once. Your outside plant (OSP) infrastructure facilities must sit unmanned for long periods.

So how do you protect your OSP buildings/enclosures from theft and vandalism? Remember these two major types of protection:

  1. Physical countermeasures
  2. Electronic monitoring

Step 1: Physically conceal and secure your OSP sites.

If unauthorized people can't get into your sites, they can't harm your equipment. Let's review a few ways to physically restrict access to your buildings and enclosures.

Use the local environment to blend in.

If nobody can see your site, you don't even need to lock it. Use what's available at the site. In an urban area, can you locate your facility behind a hedge or fence, for example. Consider opportunities to use clever paint color and other simple solutions to hide in plain sight.

Locking covers are designed to keep people out, prevent dumping and theft, and provide environmental safety. (ex. SewerLock)

Create open sight lines.

Would-be thieves are unnerved by the thought of being seen. That's why security lights are so effective. During daylight, criminals depend on visual obstructions for concealment.

You can greatly reduce your threat of intrusion by making the entry door(s) very visible. Breaking into a facility is much less appealing if your efforts must be made in full view of the public. For buildings you can't totally conceal, use visibility to your advantage by using the general public as a surveillance deterrent.

Use physical locks and barriers.

locking manhole cover
This locking manhole cover provides physical security. (EJ)

You can't always deter thieves and vandals. Sometimes you just have to physically keep them out.

Common tactics include:

  • Locking security covers below unsecured manholes covers, utility box lids, etc.
  • Proprietary fasteners (ex. pentagon nuts instead of hex).
  • Welding manholes and other unsecured standard covers shut.

Step 2: Electronically monitor against intrusions.

As helpful as physical security is, it can't stop everything. Some people are going to get through.

That's where good electronic monitoring comes in to warn you of the breach.

What should an electronic monitoring device do?

The exact device you choose will depend on the exact facility or enclosure you're trying to monitor. There are, however, two common security elements that you absolutely must track:

  1. Door open/close (man-size doors or access hatches)
  2. Motion

While you're at it, you might as well get the most value out of your monitoring device. Look for the ability to also monitor:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Water leaks
  • Equipment failures
  • Battery levels
  • Power outages

Recommended monitoring devices: RTUs.

A remote telemetry unit (RTU) is the right kind of device to monitor your OSP facility. Here are a few common options:

The NetGuardian LT

Small NetGuardian LT RTU for OSP wall mounting

The NetGuardian LT is a compact remote suitable for use in cabinets and other small enclosures. It has a wide temperature tolerance, so it will survive without HVAC in just about all climates. It can be wall-mounted (ex. inside of the cabinet door), so you don't need open rack space to install it.

The TempDefender

Small NetGuardian LT RTU for OSP

The TempDefender is a compact remote with customizable input capacity. It's fairly small, but still has enough I/O to completely monitor the security of your OSP facility.

The NetGuardian 832A

Large NetGuardian alarm remote

Got a larger OSP building/hut? The NetGuardian 832A is a larger remote with 32 discrete and 8 analog inputs. It uses a proven, evolving design that's been trusted by telcos since the 1990s.