Perimeter security for ports and bridges is the first line of defense from disruption to commerce. In the past, these assets have been difficult to secure with automated technologies. Ports cover large geographic areas that include vast and varied perimeters that are not capable of being secured the same way. For example, fences aren’t feasible for the waterside segment of a port perimeter and are impossible to use to secure a bridge. Physical barriers also do not provide the necessary situational awareness over the large areas typical for ports and bridges, which can encompass miles of perimeter.
Thermal Cameras as a Technology Solution
Achieving security awareness around bridge and port perimeters comes down to timely, credible alerts with detail to respond. Knowing the nature and location of an intrusion is the key to mounting an effective response. While there are a number of options available for port perimeter security, thermal cameras with video analytics have become a best-of-breed solution for port requirements. Smart thermal cameras operate day or night, and can “see” what the eye would miss, even over large outdoor areas in complete darkness.
Recent advances in thermal camera image processing have expanded their traditional role as “night vision” cameras to 24-hour perimeter security solutions, making them an excellent choice for solving port security challenges. Thermal cameras that have substantially more on-board image processing accurately detect the presence of unauthorized persons anywhere across site perimeters, enclaves, and isolated outdoor assets, while filtering the effects of environmental elements. Smart cameras with sufficient processing can provide accurate detection over large areas, regardless of wind, weather or the movement of small animals, trees or blowing trash.
Read about bridge and port security customers who have deployed thermal cameras for waterside applications here.
Thermal cameras can also accurately discriminate legitimate targets from extraneous motion, while presenting very clear details about the scene. In a waterside perimeter application, thermal video analytics can identify intruders despite background water movement or glare off the water.
Thermal cameras can also geo-register their field-of-view to GPS coordinates. This allows the analytics to make accurate determinations regarding target location, size, bearing and speed, critical details for securing large areas like ports. Such geo-registration can be used to display a target’s precise location against a topology map of the port to pinpoint the location of an intrusion in real time. The same information can be used to automatically steer a PTZ camera to zoom and follow detected targets for making fast response decisions.
Economics are important when securing large outdoor areas such as port perimeters, especially given the tight budgets many port operators have to work with. Outdoor surveillance involves additional infrastructure costs, including construction, trenching, camera poles, network connectivity, video display and storage. New thermal analytic cameras can operate at twice the distance and cover four times the area, creating a larger buffer zone for early detection of intruders, along with a direct economic benefit: Fewer thermal analytic cameras are needed to protect the same location, lowering overall costs accordingly.
The First Line of Defense
The economic impact of the nation’s ports, and of ports around the world, is a good indicator of the importance of providing proper maritime security. Clearly, a lot is at stake as port management and local, state and federal governments evaluate the best security technologies to protect these important assets. When it comes to protecting the port perimeter, technologies such as thermal cameras and outdoor video analytics address the particular needs of the port environment and serve as a critical first line of defense.
An earlier version of this article previously appeared in GSN Magazine.