The Silent Watchman

To eliminate the need for continuous monitor video feeds from various substations, Fayetteville PWC employed video analytics that detect unauthorized access.


The electric service division of Fayetteville Public Works Commission (PWC) has been in operation since 1905. Today, Fayetteville PWC is responsible for delivering power to over 80,000 industrial and residential customers across Cumberland County in North Carolina. They are a generation and distribution utility featuring 32 substations at 69kV and 230kV and a peak load of 490MW.


The growing threat of theft and vandalism across electric utility substations concerned Fayetteville PWC. With its large number of unmanned substations, Fayetteville PWC sought to improve the safety and reliability for their employees and customers. The answer was 24/7 monitoring, but finding the right monitoring solution presented its challenges.

The monitoring system had to survive environmental conditions with minimal maintenance. Monitoring remote substations is a challenge for utilities with limited personnel who are also responsible for operating the substation. An alarm security system is also insufficient because utilities want to avoid responding to alarms triggered by authorized substation technicians.


To eliminate the need for continuous monitor video feeds from various substations, Fayetteville PWC employed video analytics that automatically detect unauthorized access to restricted areas and send alarms through DNP3 IP to SCADA. Dispatchers receive real-time data and alerts from the video monitoring system on the same HMI so managing the power system with integrated video is simplified. The dispatchers can check the incoming alarm to see a live video feed of the event that triggered it.


“A couple of things that Systems with Intelligence does well are processing video pixels in their analytics engine to determine people moving in the substation and having substation hardened equipment that meets both IEEE 1613 and IEC 61850,” said Joel Valley, Manager, Substations and Electric Support Services for Fayetteville PWC. “The digital video system has the ability to talk DNP3 directly into our SCADA system. Alarms get generated right on the dispatcher’s screen from the camera system and the live video feed of the event that triggered it on their SCADA screen, was the real reason for choosing SWI” said Valley.

Fayetteville PWC service technicians regularly visit the substations for maintenance and the operations center did not want to respond to alarms that authorized personnel triggered. “We evaluated four vendors before selecting Systems With Intelligence,” said Valley. “We already had a system that was not working well and it was going to be superseded.” We met with these venders at four substations to get a feel for abilities and capabilities on how they would implement their products. One of the vendors involved was Systems With Intelligence who developed a solution that integrates access control to provide us with a coordinated system of substation access and control of alarms across existing SCADA system network.

When the authorized person enters the substation, they swipe a key card to gain access. The key card system is connected to the Digital Video Server (DVS) to disable the system analytics and prevent alarms from being sent to the control center. The analytics are re-enabled either when the service technician swipes the key card again on exit or after a pre-configured time-out period. The key card system also allows Fayetteville PWC to track who is entering and exiting the substations which is part of the NERC physical security guidelines for access controls. Monthly reports are generated from the key scan system for report ability.

Since each substation has a unique design, a sight layout plan was developed for each installation to optimize the position and focus of each camera. The analytics were programmed on the DVS for each substation to minimize the traffic over the wide area connections. The event video records are downloaded on scheduled off-peak hours to a network storage device in the control center.


The Systems With Intelligence equipment met all the requirements in an integrated monitoring solution for Fayetteville PWC. The initial substation was installed and commissioned in 2015, and 31 substations have subsequently been installed. The initial systems have proven successful and the rollouts continued throughout the second quarter of 2017.


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