Thermal cameras and remote surveillance

July 2012 Surveillance

For the implementation of an effective surveillance and operational crime prevention system within a large geographical area to combat criminal activity such as the theft of ferrous and non-ferrous metals i.e. copper, aluminium etc., perimeter security and coastal management, it is becoming necessary to design and implement mobile surveillance control rooms and satellite sensors. In other words, trailers that use thermal technology and day/night cameras and can be rapidly deployed and monitored remotely from the central control room.

Mobile surveillance vehicle

The reason for this surveillance strategy is that both private and public institutions do not have the resources, both financial and manpower to implement CCTV cameras on every street corner or crime hotspot. Crime patterns and trends are continuously changing.

In order to combat this threat, rapid deployment solutions are required such as the Mobile Surveillance Vehicle and CCTV trailers. These vehicles and trailers have long-range surveillance technologies built in like thermal imaging cameras (FLIR and Carl Zeiss) that can detect an individual from 500 m to 7 km away. These types of mobile units form part of an integrated security solution and are linked to the central control room.

This is done using communication mediums like radio, fibre, WIMAX, 3G and microwave. This functionality allows the mobile surveillance vehicle to communicate with the central control room. Operators in the control room will be able to monitor the thermal images from the mobile unit and the operators in the vehicle will be able to select and monitor from the other existing surveillance cameras already installed in the places like the CBD, beachfront, suburbs and various buildings and locations.

The operators are also in communication with the response units on the ground who have handheld thermal cameras as well as tablet devices so that they can see exactly what the thermal cameras from the mobile surveillance vehicle and relevant street surveillance are monitoring.

The MSV features sensors (cameras and rangefinder), including a daylight CCD camera with 36x zoom lens, a high resolution thermal imager (capable of detecting a person 7 km away and a vehicle 10 km away) for night surveillance and an eye-safe laser rangefinder for target location (Rangefinder range up to 40 km away).

The sensors are mounted on a mast which emerges from the vehicle’s roof and is controlled by operators within the vehicle’s control compartment. Video from the sensors is monitored by the controllers and the location of suspicious activities is displayed on a digital map.

For undercover operations and reconnaissance while driving along a road the vehicle is fitted with a thermal driver’s camera which enables the driver to drive to a strategic location in total darkness without the use of the vehicle’s headlights.

Mobile surveillance trailer

A primary function of the mobile surveillance vehicle and trailers is to combat electrical infrastructure and non ferrous metal theft proactively, by coordinating the mobile vehicle with the existing street surveillance cameras and mobile surveillance trailers.

The thermal cameras and mobile surveillance concept has been successful in a number of instances such as:

* Theft of assets, perimeter and site surveillance.

* Beach surveillance for safer beaches.

* Process monitoring at locations like wastewater treatment plants using the thermal heat signature to determine whether pumps are running at optimal levels or offline.

* Illegal dumping of rubble and garbage and management at waste tip sites.

* Protection of strategic sites like armoury and cash offices.

* Special event protection.

* Assisting SAPS with observation duties.

* Stock theft on small holdings and farms.

* Perlemoen poaching, illegal use of drag nets on the rivers.

* Municipal strikes and protests which usually involve burning of tyres and lots of smoke.

* Disaster management for veld fires, burning buildings and floods.


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