Improving security for critical and strategic assets is Magal Solutions’ mission

Paolo Valpolini

With over 50 years of experience in integrating security solutions for critical and strategic assets, Magal Solutions continues to improve its systems, exploiting the latest technologies, to protect military and civil infrastructures from increasing threats

Created in the 1960’s as a division of Israel Aerospace Industries, the company changed hands a few times before becoming part of the Rafael ecosystem, becoming the group’s homeland security (HLS) solutions company. Magal Solutions, headquartered in Yehud, north of Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport, has seven subsidiaries located in Azerbaijan, Romania, Spain, Mexico, India, Kenya and South Africa.

“In Yehud we have our HQ, our research and development division, and our production facility,” Arnon Bram, the company Chief Executive Officer tells EDR On-Line. “Being now part of the Rafael group, advanced  defence technologies are part of our portfolio,” he explains, adding that the company is active in the protection of defence and civil assets. “Following the acquisition by Rafael, we aligned our strategy to focus on four main verticals; national borders, seaports & terminals, oil & gas, and critical assets’ perimeter protection.”

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According to the CEO, the defence sector is straightforward  than the civil one; “The latter is more complicated, as for example when securing seaports or oil facilities we must consider the fact that in these sites security must take into account economic factors, which is not the case for defence sites,” safety and environmental issues being  also key factors.

Magal Solutions is focused on four main areas, borders, which are considered a defence issue, seaports, which can be military or civil facilities, oil and gas sites, and critical sites, the latter two falling in the civil domain. “As an example of the difference between the defence and the civil approach, if a seaport is a military base, security is the main concern, but if it is a commercial harbour, then vehicles and goods must get in and out as fast as possible to ensure maximum profitability, so our command-and-control system must guarantee a free flow while ensuring security.”

Magal Solutions is building its projects around its Fortis X C5I platform as the main platform that integrates all systems and sub-systems into one unified ecosystem. “The first step when starting a project is a thorough threat analysis, according to each site’s specific needs, requirements and characteristics.,” Arnon Bram explains. The authority overseeing the site’s security also plays a crucial role in determining the technological solutions implemented, which may be defence-oriented when the client is a national authority.

In any case the core element of the proposed solution will always be the Fortis X, which allows integration of all sensors, both those already installed by the customer, if the facility is not new, as well as new ones, to be integrated by Magal to increase protection to the required level.

It’s critical to identify the threat as early as possible and as far from the perimeter as possible to allow for sufficient response time, based on sensors capable to identify the threat, triggering an intervention that can be conducted either with unmanned or manned elements. All this is conducted through the chain of command, which can be based on a single control centre, or more than one for redundancy, or on a layered structured of control centres, depending on customers’ needs.

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“The revolution in our sector is dictated by the dramatic increase in computing power, due to the advent of edge computers and artificial intelligence. These allow real time behaviour analysis on video streams, while machine learning gives the system the capacity to distinguish humans carrying weapons, abnormal behaviours, appearance of smoke, and other critical situations,” Bram said, adding that this type of surveillance is carried out both inside and outside the site.

The enormous amount of information gathered makes it impossible to be analysed by humans, hence the presence of AI algorithms capable to carry out predictive analysis, providing decision makers with the right amount of information, at the right time, with the minimal false alarm rate. Allowing the minimal response time, according to the company CEO.

It is to note that beside utilizing third party sensors, Magal Solutions combines in-house developed and manufactured Perimeter Intrusion Detection products (PIDS), integrated with third party technologies such as video, CCTV and access control. Among PIDS we find Fensor, an advanced vibration sensor based on MEMS accelerometers, with adaptive technology that utilizes proprietary algorithms, adjusting to weather conditions and minimizing false alarms; DTR, a Taut-Wire PIDS with exceptional performance in various, harsh weather conditions; MagBar, designed to protect water culverts of all sizes, provided in two versions, one with embedded electro-optical sensors (CAST-MagBar), and one with electro-optical sensors (OPTI-GRID-MagBar); and InnoFence, which combines robust security based on concealed fibre-optic sensors, with aesthetic appeal, therefore more oriented towards civil applications.

The huge amount of data requires not only computing capacity, but also reliable, robust and wideband communication, which are increasingly available and allow further improvements in security systems, both in civil and military domains.

“Currently our business is evenly split between military solutions, protecting borders, military bases and strategic military sites, and civil solutions, mostly seaports, oil and gas, airports and national infrastructures,” Arnon Bram said.

Asked about potentially disruptive technologies, the company CEO underlined how also in this area it is the civil world that took the lead, breakthrough coming mostly from the automotive and the civilian drones industry. These provide cost-controlled, reliable, and effective solutions that can be adopted in different types of sensors. Cameras and radars with a small form factor can be integrated into walls and fences, providing advanced threat notice, allowing analytic tools to identify and classify the threat, increasing the security standard with cost-effective solutions, Bram explained. “The same applies to drones, where we have many robust and safe solutions coming from the civil sector that are cost accessible and user friendly which, together with the communications revolution, such as the 5G, allow reducing delays and increase the amount of information to be processed.”

Of course, all Magal systems are cybersecure by design, a key factor as hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated.

“Our research and development division is working on the above mentioned technologies from the civil world, as well as on edge computing and communications, and we aim at introducing new revolutionary products during this year,” Arnon Bram concluded.

Photos and graphics courtesy Magal Solutions