Gardner Energy

2 Jul 2013

Dealing with the concern of theft and vandalism to three energy substations

Gardner Energy is an electric utility company that has served Gardner, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, for more than 100 years. The utility runs three energy substations that power a community of nearly 20,000 residents. Copper theft has become a major issue in recent years, and Gardner Energy had experienced several incidents at its sites. After an episode where vandals entered a substation during a holiday weekend and damaged the control boxes, the utility board needed to considered options to upgrade security to protect against future threats. In 2008, thieves successfully stole tens of thousands of dollars worth of material from a storage yard. Two years later, vandals broke into a substation attempting to steal copper conductors from an operations area. They cut the lock off the control cabinet and tampered with the controls in order to de-energize the conductors that they were trying to steal. Doing so, they cut power to approximately a third of the town.

The IP cameras Gardner had deployed took video of the 2008 and 2010 incidents, but there were no automatic alerts set up. The first theft attempt, in 2008, succeeded. The second was foiled when a supervisor responding to the power outage discovered the robbery in progress. In considering upgrades to the security system, the utility looked at several different camera systems, both monitored and unmonitored, along with a motion sensor system. It opted for an upgraded video security solution because officials determined that it presented the most reliable method to avoid false alarms and help the utility prevent future incidents of theft and vandalism (catch potential thieves).


Gardner Energy contacted VideoIQ distributor Atronic Alarms about potential solutions. A number of systems were evaluated before settling on six VideoIQ ICVR-HD IP cameras. The cameras deliver full 1080p resolution and 30 fps, zero bandwidth recording, full megapixel analytics and support for IQTrackTM – automatic digital PTZ zoom and track. With 250 GB of video storage onboard each camera, Gardner’s deployment eliminated the need for expensive, separate high-capacity networks – reducing costs, system complexity, infrastructure, time and resources. The implementation included VideoIQ ViewTM, advanced video management software that monitors the health and alarm status of cameras and encoders, provides live viewing of images tracked, alerts operators to potential threats automatically and rapidly searches recorded video for incidents, object types, and particular individuals. The solution provides 24/7 protection at about one-third of the cost of hiring a full-time guard service.


  • Installations budgeted for 2012 but moved up to 2011.
  • Sites monitored 24/7 by utility personnel and a contract alarm service.
  • No reported incidents of vandalism or theft since installation.
  • System accurately identifies and tracks people in regions of interest and sends timely alert notifications to security personnel.
  • Real-time analytics help prevent vandalism immediately

The Video IQ Choice

The two main factors that led to the choice of the VideoIQ solution were its analytics package and the fact that the video storage is located at the camera. Having the storage at the edge of the network eliminated bandwidth concerns. The VideoIQ system also did more than just record all incidents after the fact; it alerted operators as soon as an intruder came on site.

“Our main concerns were reliability of the system in detecting intruders, avoiding false alarms and interfacing with our network,” said Gardner Energy Electric Operations Supervisor Darrin McNew. “The VideoIQ solution met all those requirements better than any other alternative we looked at.” The cameras track people and vehicles that enter the large fields of coverage surrounding each substation – one to two acres in size. The analytics recognize intrusions of this type and send automatic alerts to staff or the monitoring service. Just as important are what the analytics ignore – leaves, animals and gusts of wind that can cause false alarms in other motion-detecting devices. Gardner Energy officials are pleased with how simple the cameras are to program and use along with the video quality. The company plans to expand its security capabilities and equip other sites with VideoIQ solutions. “It is definitely a relief to know the cameras are in place and that we will be notified as soon as anyone enters one of our substations,” McNew said. “Obviously our facilities contain some very expensive equipment that people rely on for their electricity. Anything we can do to better protect those facilities benefits everyone in our town.”

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