On a packed trip through Utah, Representative Jason Chaffetz stopped into a small business in Orem Monday to congratulate SpotterRF on securing critical infrastructure sites worldwide.
SpotterRF in Orem was founded in 2009 by Logan Harris to manufacture and supply compact surveillance radar (CSR) technology to infrastructure like electrical substations and oil and gas power stations.
Referencing the April incident where a Florida postal worker flew a gyrocopter through restricted airspace in Washington D.C. and landed just outside the U.S. Capitol, Chaffetz said the technology Harris has perfected at SpotterRF will help protect critical sites on U.S. soil.
“We’ve already seen these attacks happen,” Chaffetz said. “It’s a new age, and we haven’t even yet begun to think as creatively as terrorists. Let’s not jump at shadows, but let’s be smart and protect our infrastructure.
“I want to make sure we at least have some exposure to when something is coming our way. … In this day and age these sorts of things happen, but they can be prevented with technology like this.”
The SpotterRF technology is a small, portable wide-area detection radar coupled with a full camera. When deployed, it can cover the same 360 degree area with just three CSRs and one camera, that would require 60 regular security cameras to cover. The CSRs track movement in real time, and send signals to the camera to focus in on that movement, almost like a hyperactive, overprotective, but very silent watchdog.
Harris, an Orem resident and CEO of SpotterRF, said he started the business to make a difference in stateside ground surveillance security options. Prior to starting his company, he worked with another business that created radar systems for military applications. Many civilian entities asked for the same type of technology, and Harris has been supplying that need.
Harris spoke of the increase in civilian drone use, and the potential threat malicious drone usage could pose. He also referred to the 2013 attack on the Metcalf Substation near San Jose, Calif. as an example of what the SpotterRF technology can prevent. In that attack, cables going to the substation were cut and a main transformer was shot at and disabled by gunfire. In the large picture, if more of these small attacks were coordinated, then the entire power grid in the U.S. could be disabled.
“This has the industry concerned. We’re all so interconnected, and we need protection beyond our fences. We need to find the threats before they actually come into the facility,” Harris said. “There are hundreds of critical substations, and if you just take out nine particular ones, you’d take down the whole grid. It would be a devastating incident. No one wants to see the electrical grid go down.”
SpotterRF technology is already at Exxon’s Alaskan oil fields, in San Diego, Calif., monitoring the dam system, and in Maryland. Arizona is working to expand its use of the technology to monitor its borders with Mexico. One area near the North Pole even uses a SpotterRF to be able to monitor the movement of polar bears in any type of weather — for the protection of both the bears and the people living nearby.
“We supply across the world, on every single continent. In most places where there are ‘hot spots,’ we have our systems there, protecting substations across the world,” Harris said.
Chaffetz visited SpotterRF as part of its grand opening of a newly renovated 23,000 square foot office building in Orem. The business previously ran from another smaller office in Orem, but because of recent growth, needed to expand. SpotterRF started with just five employees in 2009, and has grown to 25. They are currently hiring for roughly five positions, most of which are engineering related. Engineering students from Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University were invited to the presentation Monday and received VIP tours of the new building.