Casting Eyes on Maritime Security

The benefits of digital video in a maritime context are numerous.  But the use of video is much different from most land-based solutions because all maritime installations have to be able to withstand high levels of corrosion, vibrations, shock and extreme temperatures, while being highly resilient and providing non-stop operations. Even more challenging: the systems are often used in locations where on-site service is difficult to impossible.

Video monitoring systems in maritime environments must be designed for remote maintenance and designed with redundant components to ensure operational up-time, since spare parts can be hard to get. The use of video on ships and in harbors also calls for numerous types of devices to be connected to the system. This spans from sensors to highly specialized cameras dedicated to use on drilling platforms or in submersibles. Connectivity is also an issue, as devices have to be mounted far away from the monitoring facilities.

Finally, ships and harbors are busy environments. Often there is little to no staff available to monitor incidents. This means the video system must have a high degree of intelligence built in, in order to help the staff to take fast, qualified decisions to either resolve an incident or preferably, prevent it from happening at all.

Offshore Safety

Ships are dangerous environments, where video can be used to ensure the safety of crew on deck who are using heavy machinery, performing maintenance or during emergencies.

The video enabling of crane operations provides not only a higher level of safety but also helps the crane operator to work faster and more precisely because the video lets them see where the load is being placed. Some equipment can be monitored by thermal cameras to alert and avoid overheating; this prevents costly shutdowns of essential equipment and also reduces fire hazards

Spills of oil or dangerous chemicals can easily be detected using video. Video analytics can be used to improve customer service on passenger vessels or increase safety using thermal cameras to detect objects in the water thus avoiding collisions. Thermal cameras provide images based on thermal signatures of whatever is in the camera’s field of view.

These cameras will detect objects in the water up ahead including floating debris or perhaps a large iceberg just below the surface. Timely alerts can be sent (based on the anomalous thermal signatures put out by unusual objects) to the ship’s bridge via the video system.

The video system can be used not only as a safety system but also as a security system preventing intruders from boarding a moored ship. This can prevent theft and vandalism but also inhibit stowaways. The forensic aspect is also of importance as the video system can document incidents, but also provide documentation of handling of cargo for insurance disputes.

Harbor Accidents

Harbors face challenging environmental and safety situations as a result of harsh weather, heavy freight transport and large passenger traffic. Winds can cause cargo containers to sway while hoisted high above cranes; tractor trailers sometimes damage the piers when unloading cargo; and boats become unmoored. Common accidents are oil leaks from ships during refueling. The early detection of such incidents is vital, because oil spills can prove fatal for plant, animal and human life.

Another example is when a ship smashes against the pier, causing damage that requires repairing. Protecting the environment in instances of oil leaks during ship refueling. The ability to document such incidents and the damage proves highly important for future dispute resolving.  Another very important benefit of a video system in a harbor is the ability to improve management of shipping traffic.

If the harbor has older analog video systems, they commonly only covered certain parts of the vast port area.

This meant that accidents frequently occurred in locations that were not monitored by authorities, costing a harbor dearly. Adhering to the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code is an amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention (1974/1988) and sets minimum security arrangements for ships, ports and government agencies is not only important for many harbors, but also a competitive advantage for a harbor.

Open Platform Advantages for Naval Needs

The old-fashioned analog solutions used in naval applications lack the integration abilities that digital solutions now can provide. Using a digital open platform solution not only enables video analytics, remote operations and interconnected solutions, but also give the freedom to choose the right hardware for optimal performance in the demanding environment.

With Milestone’s distributed video surveillance, port authorities can now monitor the entire port area from one central location, providing much better situational awareness for much faster detection of unusual events and accidents. This enables operators to initiate immediate mitigating action, thus limiting the impact of an incident.

One part of such a solution is Milestone Interconnect, for multiple XProtect systems to be joined in network. Comprehensive coverage across the multiple harbors can provide effective situational awareness so incidents can be brought into greater focus. Even naval vessels using Milestone software can safely and easily be integrated into the safety fabric of the harbor.

Easy integration between cameras, analytics and other systems is also a major benefit to operational efficiency. Milestone VMS enables security personnel to get a sharp overview of safety issues and to respond far more quickly thanks to the easy integration of best-of-breed video analytics and intelligence add-ons.

XProtect Smart Client can be incorporated as an easy-to-use, streamlined interface for daily surveillance operations. Harbor patrolling guards can also be equipped with Milestone Mobile to access the video system – no matter where their physical location is – and quickly respond to incidents.

By Christian Ringler, Milestone Systems Director of Sales – Middle East, Africa and DACH

See also the Antwerp and Trondheim harbor case studies.