Small company adapts technology for homeland security applications

Nov. 1, 2002
ORISKANY, N.Y. — System integrators and government officials today want technology immediately and off-the-shelf for homeland security applications.

by John McHale

ORISKANY, N.Y. — System integrators and government officials today want technology immediately and off-the-shelf for homeland security applications. This creates opportunity for small companies whose engineers can adapt technology quickly for use in homeland security.

An example of this is Fiber Instruments Sales (FIS), an optical fiber communications company in Oriskany, N.Y. Company designers have created Fiber Fence, an infrared detection system that uses fiber optic cable as the waveguide sensor to monitor and protect a perimeter or defined border.

After 9/11 "we looked at ways that we could adapt our fiber optic technology for use in security applications," says Valerie Sitler senior vice president of sales and marketing at FIS. The product took about nine months to develop and is available now right off the shelf, she adds.

Fiber Fence comes in different versions depending on the size of the facility or defined border to be protected. The most expensive system, the Fiber Fence 2000, costs $15,000, Sitler says.

The Fiber Fence uses optical time domain reflectometer technology (OTDR) that detects changes in light transmission that any breaks or changes in tension might cause, Sitler says. One touch could set off an intrusion alarm. OTDR basically measures how long it takes light to transmit back to the Fiber Fence control system and uses that data to determine the location of any break in transmission or an intruder, she explains.

The product is for airports, prisons, nuclear power plants, border security, military bases, railroad tracks, and any other application that has a vulnerable perimeter, FIS officials say.

Unlike copper systems, intruders find it impossible to jumper fiber optic cable since its core requires precise alignment for light transmission, FIS officials claim. Fiber is also EMI-immune and electronically noise-free, company officials say.

FIS's latest version, Fiber Fence 2000 can protect as much as 80 kilometers of perimeter and units can be cascaded for virtually unlimited distances, company officials claim. Installation on the 2000 cable does not have to be looped back to the main control unit, FIS officials say.

The 2000 device has built-in storage capability with a trace overlay feature that enables quick and accurate before-and-after comparison of the fiber's characteristics. This is important when harmless intrusions or environmental events, such as an ice storm, occur around the perimeter, FIS officials say. A printable event chart records the frequency and location of events.

The 2000 system includes a CompactPCI bus, a monitor, keyboard, OTDR card, power supply, and a lock box for storage housed in a 19-inch rack assembly on casters.

The Fiber Fence from FIS uses fiber optic cable to protect a perimeter.
Click here to enlarge image


For more information on the Fiber Fence and Fiber Instrument sales contact Valerie Sitler by phone at 315-736-2206, by fax at 315-736-2285, by mail at 161 Clear Road, Oriskany, N.Y. 13424, by e-mail at [email protected], or on the World Wide Web at

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