Enhancing surveillance on mines

SMART Mining Security Solutions 2023 Editor's Choice, Surveillance, Integrated Solutions, Mining (Industry)

Video surveillance is nothing new in mines, although the technologies and capabilities of surveillance solutions have advanced dramatically over the past few years, including AI-advanced analytics on the edge (in the camera) as well as server-based, which today can also mean cloud based.

Mines have plenty of cameras, although some are old and offer limited efficacy, but the mines don’t generally want to rip and replace everything, instead, integrating them with newer technology and solutions/services is the preferred route.

Smart Security approached a number of surveillance vendors to find out what the latest in surveillance technology is that can make a difference to security operations in mines, including the benefits of AI and risks of cybersecurity. Our responses came from:

• Avigilon, Jamey Pietersen

• Axis Communications, Marcel Bruyns

• Forbatt, Vaughn Tempelhoff

• Hikvision, Hunter Ye

• Bosch Building Technologies, Quintin Van Den Berg

Smart Security: What surveillance technologies can assist mines in their security and operations? What role is AI playing in improving their security and operations?

Pietersen: The primary goals for mining organisations all over the world is firstly to maintain safety for workers across their onsite operations while maximising productivity. The growing need to keep workers safe, protect critical infrastructure and minimise downtime is also driving significant investments in video security technology.

Fixed video solutions incorporating CCTV can be used to monitor on site activities and equipment, identify potential safety risks and provide perimeter security across mine sites.

However, the real power of video security technology is realised when it is coupled with advanced, AI-powered video analytics. Video security focused AI is a highly effective tool for the mining sector because it can be used to detect anomalies across large and remote areas that a human working in a control room would never be able to identify by themselves. This includes potential safety and security risks that can be triggered by the unusual or unexpected movement of vehicles and people.

When these events occur, alerts can be automatically sent to remote operating centres so that immediate action can be taken by control room workers.

Video-based AI is a highly effective tool to help maintain safety, security and to keep operations running efficiently in the mining sector.

Bruyns: There are many new technologies that have been brought to the market. From Axis, we have launched an IP based strobe siren, a first of its kind being able to add intelligent features to a standard device like a strobe and siren. There are many benefits to using this device in the mining industry whether it is used for warning personnel to creating alarms based on different events.

We have also combined optical cameras with radar technology which we are calling Fusion, this takes the benefits of classification from the radar and fuses the metadata with the image of the optical camera, perfect to use in large area where people and vehicles need to be detected, the speed of these objects can also be measured which is very useful in the mining industry to track who, what and how fast things are moving.

We have also launched the first Zone 2 Ex rated optical camera, which will see great benefit for different mining industries in these very sensitive areas on the mine where explosions are a high risk.

AI is continuously being improved and today we see great advancements on edge processing. Our new products all come with onboard processing ability and dedicated processing for edge-based AI. Slip and fall, object classification, perimeter protection, temperature detection, IOT device inputs, facial recognition, licence plate recognition, PPE detection, weapon detection, fire detection, drone detection, are some of the AI technologies we see being used today. There are many more AI applications that have been developed for specific use cases and with our open platform the option for companies to develop custom applications is easier than before. Our new ACAP 4 has opened many new options as the platform now supports container-based applications like Docker.

Tempelhoff: There are various surveillance technologies that can assist mines in their security and operations, such as CCTV cameras, drones, access control systems, and perimeter intrusion detection systems. AI is playing an increasingly important role in improving the security and operations of mines by providing real-time video analysis, facial recognition, and behaviour analysis to detect potential threats and enhance situational awareness.

Ye: AI analysis is definitely playing an important role in surveillance in today’s security industry, especially for the mines. For example, with Hikvision’s AcuSense technology, the cameras can distinguish human, vehicle and other objects, so we can reduce a huge number of false alarms every day to increase the surveillance operational efficiency. Also, Hikvision has also applied its advanced AIoT deep learning algorithms in its project-level cameras; we can ‘train’ a camera for object detection based on the client’s need, like ‘rock detection’, ‘conveyor belt deviation’ and so on.

Quintin Van Den Berg.

Van Den Berg: There are several surveillance technologies available today that can assist mines in their security and operations. Some of them are:

• CCTV cameras: Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are commonly used in mines to monitor activity and detect potential security threats. These cameras can be placed in strategic locations around the mine to provide a comprehensive view of the area.

• Drones: Drones equipped with cameras and sensors can provide aerial surveillance of mines, helping to identify potential safety hazards, monitor equipment and personnel, and detect any suspicious activity.

• RSA mapping: Geo-fencing technology can be used to create virtual boundaries around specific areas of the mine. When a vehicle or person enters or exits a geofenced area, an alert can be triggered, allowing security personnel to respond quickly.

• Security Centre Restricted Security Area (RSA) surveillance brings together different detection and tracking devices under a single visualisation pane. Moving targets are automatically tracked on geographical maps and intuitively displayed so that security personnel can assess and respond to threats in less time.

The latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI) use machine learning and deep learning. They give cameras the ability to self-learn and enable built-in video analytics to be taught to detect customer-specific objects or situations. They can also transform a task from requiring human input to a successfully automated one, and tackle more complex tasks faster, easier, and with greater accuracy.

We continue to leverage the power of AI to enable users to better understand their environment so they can respond proactively and ultimately, predict unforeseen or future situations. Having the power to predict can prevent things from happening and strengthen the protection of people and property. It can even help to avoid potential damages and uncover business opportunities that create new revenue streams or reduce operational costs.

Smart Security: With large areas to cover (and long perimeters) that don’t always have easy access to electricity or a fibre network, what surveillance technologies are there to assist without incurring significant costs?

Pietersen: Video security camera hardware is becoming increasingly sophisticated with many of the newer models providing inbuilt analytics to deliver intelligence at the edge. These cameras are cloud enabled and can be easily connected to existing networks without the need for additional capital and labour costs to run fibre, cabling or to dig trenches.

Higher resolution, multi-megapixel cameras such as those from the Motorola Solutions Avigilon H5 Pro Camera line also provide very long-range coverage and detection over vast areas while minimising bandwidth and storage consumption through high-definition stream management. This saves costs by allowing sites to be equipped with fewer cameras while still having the ability to capture high-quality footage.

As the form factor for security cameras keeps improving, so do the methods for powering them. Batteries are becoming more efficient and solar powered trailers and generators are also being used in remote areas on mine sites where it may be cost prohibitive to run cables and supporting infrastructure.

Bruyns: Clearly defined perimeters have always been a challenge and often, as the mine progresses, these perimeters move. From a technology perspective, we always see the best results from a thermal perimeter solution as it is designed to reduce the number of false alarms while maintaining a high detection rate of intruders. In cases, where a fixed perimeter is not an option, we have used radar detection in conjunction with PTZ cameras that are able to cover a large area rather than a long fence line. Sometimes these are also used in conjunction with strategically placed IoT devices that use LoRaWAN technology to trigger events on the camera so that an operator can respond.

Vaughn Tempelhoff.

Tempelhoff: There are several surveillance technologies available that can assist in monitoring large areas with limited access to electricity or a fibre network. Some of these technologies include solar-powered cameras, wireless sensors, and long-range radios. These technologies can help reduce costs associated with installation, maintenance, and energy consumption.

Ye: Hikvision’s thermal product range is designed for long-range detection. We also released Eco thermal products to make them affordable for different types of customers. Compared to the risk they prevent; the investment is worthwhile.

In many cases, bringing power supply wires to remote sites is too difficult or expensive to justify. To overcome these challenges, Hikvision offers our Wind & Solar energy supply solution, which ensures always-on power and security in even the most inaccessible locations. With the option to add three to five days of additional battery redundancy, the system can withstand several days of rain and bad weather, while still powering vertical applications such as security systems.

The Hikvision solution combines a number of key technologies to provide reliable energy for ‘off-grid’ locations and applications. These include technologies for efficiently blending wind and solar energy, and for converting it into electrical energy that is stored in durable batteries.

Van Den Berg: Several surveillance technologies can be used in areas with limited access to electricity and a fibre network, without incurring significant costs. Some options include:

• Cameras powered by solar: These cameras use solar panels to generate power and can operate without being connected to the electrical grid. They can be used in remote locations where electricity is not available and can be cost-effective in the long run as they do not require ongoing electricity costs.

• Wireless mesh networks: These networks use radio signals to transmit data between cameras and other network devices. They are useful in areas where a fibre network is not available and can provide connectivity over long distances.

• Drones: Drones equipped with cameras can provide aerial surveillance of large areas. They can be operated remotely and can cover areas that are difficult to access by other means.

Smart Security: Edge processing is growing in the surveillance industry, is this something that can assist mines in improving security and operations without incurring excessive costs?

Pietersen: Yes. Continued improvements to camera hardware is driving more sophisticated edge processing capabilities and analytics. This allows users to perform video analytics at the edge without having to continually transmit video back to a control room or remote operating centre. For example, video analytics software can be configured to detect potential safety risks, such as a person or vehicle crossing train tracks on a mine site.

Another way organisations are being more strategic with their video security investments is by placing their most advanced cameras where they are needed most, such as in high traffic areas or places where valuable equipment is located. With digital system design tools, users can plot a geographic map around their entire site and add cameras to cover this area. This allows them to see the camera’s complete field of view and what the coverage will look like before any resources or cameras are deployed.

Bruyns: Yes, edge processing for cameras will assist and more companies are developing applications for our cameras, as mentioned in the example of Docker.

Ye: Yes, Hikvision provides high-performance edge processing solutions. Edge processing makes the whole solution flexible; a heavy-duty server is no longer a must. Hikvision cameras can not only analyse a complex situation onsite, but also ‘train’ an algorithm to meet the customer’s need for a specific scenario.

Van Den Berg: Yes, edge processing can assist mines in improving security and operations without incurring huge costs. Edge processing involves processing data locally, at the edge – on the CCTV camera – rather than sending it to a server for processing. By processing data locally, it can reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted over the network, which can lower bandwidth and storage costs as well as catering for no single point of failure.

In the context of mining, edge processing can be used to detect when vehicles or people enter restricted areas, when equipment is not operating properly, or when there is a potential safety hazard.

Edge processing can also be useful in remote mining locations where network connectivity is limited or unreliable. By processing data locally, edge processing can ensure that security and operations can continue even if the network goes down.

Smart Security: Similarly, how can cloud services assist in improving the services gained without exorbitant costs?

Pietersen: Cloud connected video security cameras bring significant advantages in terms of reducing capital and labour costs for installation while delivering valuable new capabilities.

System health monitoring tools can identify when a camera in the field goes offline or has its view obscured by dust and mineral build up or other environmental factors. System health warnings are generated automatically so system users can examine the evidence first and then decide if they need to visit a mine site location to conduct maintenance or repairs. This delivers significant labour, travel and time savings on mine sites spanning large distances. Over-the-air firmware updates are another feature that can be pushed out to cloud connected cameras across a mine site.

Bruyns: We see more options in the market for cloud solutions, but in my personal opinion I feel cloud solutions are still a bit premature for the South African mining industry. While we have seen solutions deployed with SD card storage on devices and backup to the cloud, as well as hybrid solutions of on-premises and cloud, the stability of the services provided like internet connections in conjunction with the difficulties of dealing with load shedding, could create possible challenges. I don’t think we need to rule out the option altogether, but I feel a hybrid solution would be a more stable solution.

Ye: Cloud is a trend now; cloud services allow installers to provide remote services to their clients without spending time driving to fix a network issue. Compared to the time and efforts saved, the cloud service cost is almost unmentionable. Like AI, the cloud is not a new trend in our industry, but it is an expanding one. From small business markets to enterprise levels, we can see the momentum pushing more businesses to leverage cloud-based security solutions and services via public and private clouds. And as we are witnessing even now, the pandemic has accelerated the movement to cloud-based operations for people and businesses around the world.

Van Den Berg: Cloud services can help improve services in several ways:

• Pay-per-use model: Cloud services typically operate on a pay-per-use model, where businesses only pay for the resources they use. This means that businesses can avoid paying for unused resources and only pay for what they need, leading to cost savings. This comes down to footage retention time, alarm notifications and the ability to transmit alarms to the SOC.

• Reduced infrastructure costs: Cloud services eliminate the need for expensive servers, cooling, storage and floor space.

• Access to cutting-edge technology: as new features are implemented these features are implemented into the cloud interface without additional costs.

• Improved reliability and availability: Cloud service providers typically offer high levels of reliability and availability, which can be difficult and costly for businesses to achieve on their own.

Overall, cloud services can provide businesses with a cost-effective way to improve their services, without the need for large upfront investments in IT infrastructure.

Smart Security: How does AI help mine surveillance? Has behavioural AI advanced to the stage where systems can detect certain behaviours, such as not coming back up after a shift? Similarly, has facial recognition in cameras, or done on video in control rooms or the cloud, advanced to the level where people can be recognised (blacklisted people, for example)?

Pietersen: There have been many advances in video AI in recent years that are enabling video security systems to detect and analyse a variety of different scenarios. One example is using video AI to detect and prevent industrial theft in the mining sector. With AI based video analytics, specific movements and changing conditions – including someone throwing an object over a fence – can be easily detected across mine sites.

Appearance search technology can sort through hours of video to help to identify a potentially dangerous person or people based on physical descriptors.

We take a rigorous approach to the application of AI technology to ensure it is used fairly, ethically and is ‘assistive’ to human workers – in other words, that it is used in ways to assist people in performing tasks they are already authorised and allowed to do. After AI helps to find any anomalies, humans should assess the situation, make decisions and take the appropriate actions.

Applied correctly, video AI is an incredibly powerful tool that can increase the effectiveness of physical security systems, deliver on business outcomes and improve safety.

Bruyns: AI has helped and there are many applications available. Many of these applications are used to help operators on the mine make better decisions and are reducing the false alarms that needed to be dealt with manually in the past. Many AI applications do perform better in more controlled environments, a careful approach and using the technologies to add value, but not do the job completely, is better, as the risks are a bit lower.

Behavioural detection is not an easy thing to do with AI, AI needs to be trained in a very specific way and, unfortunately, AI cannot make decisions on its own, which is why it is better used to rather detect the person and then have a well-trained operator make the decision based on the alert. Facial recognition has definitely improved and creating black- or whitelists to prevent know or unknown criminals or offenders onto site is definitely something that can be done today.

Tempelhoff: Our IPC can detect abnormal behaviour; our face recognition function can support blacklist setup and detect people with a very high-accuracy rate. As for the TVT IPC, which supports people counting, it is theoretically able to count the number of people coming out of the pit (or not), but it is not suitable for this situation when multiple people enter at the same time, someone may be blocked by others, and this will lead to inaccurate counting.

Ye: AI nowadays is helping every industry to improve staff safety and operation efficiency. Hikvision offers comprehensive AI solutions including vehicle analysis, PPE detection and compliance etc. We have been helping one of the top mines in South Africa to do site clearance before the blasting for some time already. In addition, Hikvision has an advanced AI training platform, which can always help an industry to employ the specific algorithm they need.

Van Den Berg: Here are some ways behaviour analytics can benefit a mine:

• Safety: By analysing worker behaviour, AI can detect when workers are engaging in potentially unsafe behaviour, such as not wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment or working too close to machinery. This can help prevent accidents and improve overall safety in the mine.

• Condition change: Someone falling can be detected and an operator alerted.

• People counting: Counting the amount of people entering a shaft and then compare the data to the amount existing a shaft can indicate a ‘lost’ person.

• Camera Trainer: Training the camera on bespoke objects or situations, for example, to detect flooding inside a mine chamber, excessive weight on a vehicle, or trucks with lower load than required.

Yes, facial recognition technology has advanced to the point where it can recognise people with a high degree of accuracy, even in real-time video streams. This technology can be used for security purposes, such as blacklisting people who are not authorised to be in a particular area, or for identifying people who are known to pose a threat.

Smart Security: Can modern surveillance technologies be used effectively underground, such as at intersections or for counting people? The lighting in this environment may not be conducive to surveillance, not to mention the dust and dirt that could impact cameras.

Pietersen: Underground mining requires the use of certified and proven technologies that uphold the highest levels of safety. Our organisation has developed a number of fit-for-purpose communications devices, systems and applications for the mining, energy and oil and gas sectors, including those used to support safe and effective operations in underground environments.

Video security cameras with improved frame rate, low-light performance and thermal imaging capabilities can all help to overcome poor lighting in underground environments. With video AI software such as occupancy and people counting, it’s also possible to see and count how many people are in a cage to maintain safety requirements in underground mines. Similarly, the software can be used to detect and prevent the collision of vehicles used underground when drivers’ views are obstructed.

Another important technology used in the mining, oil and gas sectors are video cameras that are certified for explosion-rated environments across international standards such as the H5A Explosion-Protected camera line. These cameras eliminate the risk of igniting vapours, gases, dust or fibres in the air in hazardous environments, helping to keep employees, assets and the natural environment safe.

Bruyns: Modern cameras have definitely improved over the past 10 years and today we see cameras that can produce a colour image in low light conditions that a human might struggle to work in, this is also without artificial light. Our updated Light finder 2 technology has really pushed the boundaries of surveillance cameras today. In conjunction with the Lightfinder we have also improved our Zipstream technology which saves on bandwidth and storage, especially in low light conditions where noise on the image increases the bandwidth.

Thermal cameras are also used in mining area where no light is available, it could also be used in areas where dust is high, making optical camera images unusable. AI is very reliant on good image quality and works well in well-lit areas, but not so much in areas of poor lighting.

Tempelhoff: Modern surveillance technologies can be used effectively underground, but there are challenges associated with the environment, such as limited lighting and dust and dirt that can impact camera performance. However, there are specialised cameras available that can operate in low-light conditions such as the TVT Full Colour series IPC (starlight level which supports 0.003 lux@ F1.0, AGC ON; 0 lux with LED ON).

Ye: Security technologies help the operations underground. For example, robots equipped with cameras can be combined with cameras mounted on a cage to scan the cable/wire condition around the tunnel, so that the maintenance team can directly check the cable status when the cage goes up or down without having to stop the cage service and spend hours checking the cables.

Additionally, Hikvision provides various kinds of people counting solutions, which can count the number of people going down and coming up. Its cutting-edge low light technology makes the low-light environment less challenging.

Van Den Berg: As stated above, counting people entering and existing a mine shaft can be used to determine whether someone has been left behind. Cameras with extreme low light sensitivity or thermal will aid in low light situations. Thermal cameras also have the ability to see through dust and dirt that might build up on the lens of a camera.

Smart Security: What cybersecurity do modern cameras employ within the camera?

Pietersen: Cybersecurity is a growing concern for organisations worldwide and we address this in the product development of our video security systems. Both the cameras and the video management software that we develop provide end-to-end encryption to maintain security and data integrity for all users.

That means every time a central control system accesses a camera, the camera sends back fully encrypted credentials across the network to prevent any unauthorised external party from extracting data in any kind of usable form. As an added layer of protection, all video content transmitted by our systems can also be fully encrypted.

Bruyns: At Axis we take cybersecurity very seriously and all of our devices have good built in security features. We have products that also come with additional cybersecurity features, these technologies have been built into the device and can be configured to very high industry standards for cyber protection.

• Edge vault: Following the latest international standard for secure device identity (IEEE 802.1AR), the Axis Edge Vault security component enable automatic and secure identification of new devices during installation.

• Secure Boot: Based on the use of signed firmware, secure boot acts as a gatekeeper for your surveillance system. This functionality ensures unauthenticated, tampered code is blocked and rejected during the boot process before it can attack or infect your system. Furthermore, Axis signed firmware ensures that any new firmware to be downloaded and installed on a device is signed by Axis. So you can be sure your device will boot only trusted, authentic firmware that originates from Axis.

• Signed firmware: Attackers may try to deceive system owners into installing altered firmware which may include malicious code. Signed firmware prevents this. You can verify the integrity of the firmware before you install new devices or upgrade existing ones. Axis firmware is signed using a digital signature. This process is based on the RSA public-key encryption method, where the public key is embedded in the Axis device and the private key is stored in a safe and secure location at Axis.

• TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is a standalone hardware component that ensures cryptographic keys and certificates are safe and secure, even in the event of a security breach.

We have a hardening guide available to everyone, which explains many processes that can be put in place to help protect the devices on the network.

Tempelhoff: You can set the video abnormal alarm, so if a criminal is blocking the camera it will trigger the alarm. The NVR can refrain from playing a preview when not logged in. Even if a criminal were to steal the hard drive, the encrypted data would prevent them from playing back the recorded footage to see the patrol situation of the guards.

Ye: Cybersecurity remains a very important and challenging issue for all parties in our industry, as customers and regulators get more concerned about the security of their data and privacy and have set higher standards and demands on this issue. We see the value in highlighting the idea of Zero Trust for everyone to consider when designing cybersecurity strategies. Zero Trust is a strategic initiative that was developed to prevent data breaches by eliminating the concept of trust from an organisation’s network architecture. In cybersecurity, trust becomes a vulnerability. Zero Trust is an approach to cybersecurity that dictates our connected systems must “never trust; always verify”.

Van Den Berg: Our IP cameras have a built-in Secure Element with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) functionality. The hardware securely stores all certificates and cryptographic keys needed for authentication and encryption. Depending on the camera model, the Secure Element supports RSA encryption key lengths of up to 4096 bits, ensuring data remains safe beyond 2030. All cameras offer extensive user management capabilities to ensure only authorised users have access to camera data. They support a Public Key Infrastructure setup and provide software sealing to detect any change in the cameras’ configuration settings. Other data security measures built-in by design at the edge include:

• Secured connections (HTTPS) supported.

• Password enforcement at setup.

• Unsecure ports disabled by default.

• Unsecure remote communication disabled by default.

• Protection against execution of untrusted and malicious code.

• Firmware updates only possible via Bosch signed firmware files.

• Embedded Login Firewall improves robustness against Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks.

Smart Security: What surveillance solutions does your company offer the mining industry?

Pietersen: See www.securitysa.com/*avig1 and www.securitysa.com/*avig2.

Bruyns: We provide all types of cameras to the mining industry, from devices in an office environment all the way through to harsh environments. We have a wide variety of cameras that could be used in most solutions for the mining industry. Over and above cameras, we also provide video management systems, IP audio solutions, IP intercom systems, body-worn camera solutions, access control solutions and AI applications.

Ye: We provide security solutions to different scenarios in the mining industry, such as perimeter protection, underground workplace security, PPE protection, vehicle management etc.

Van Den Berg: We have an extended camera portfolio with edge-based AI analytics available together with our video management platform, cloud-based offerings with AI verification and integration with Bosch intrusion and access control, as well as third parties.

Our cameras offer AI-driven video solutions that uses highly accurate data to analyse video footage in real-time to detect potential threats, enhancing the overall security of facilities in commercial and industrial environments.


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