Wireless Video Surveillance Boosts Security For Ferry Along U.S./Canadian Border

When Champions Auto Ferry decided to install a wireless video surveillance network, the company had to make sure the system could fulfill security and monitoring needs even during harsh winter conditions.

From mainland Michigan, the ferry is the only way to get to Harsens Island, a vacation destination during the summer and the rest of the year a remote town with less than 2,000 in population located 25 miles northeast of downtown Detroit. Ultimately, the company found the solution that could meet the security demands in such a tough environment in Firetide’s wireless infrastructure mesh networking equipment and VideoIQ cameras.

“Champions Ferry provides transportation to and from Harsens Island across the St. Clair River, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said David Bryson, Champion Ferry owner. “Even the harsh winters and icy waters don’t stop us from operating.”

To better monitor the number of cars being transported on the ferries, and to ensure a safe environment for passengers, the company sought a video surveillance solution that would record transactions and activities and serve as a reliable backup if incidents needed further examination or investigation.

Champion turned to the security integrator Data Consultants Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., skilled in understanding the needs of clients in industrial and harsh environments.

“We work with companies, way up north, whose work takes place in very cold and icy climates,” said Josh Bylsma, physical security consultant for Data Consultants.

Due to the island’s proximity to the Canadian border, there were additional security concerns with regards to the installation, according to Bylsma.

“The issue of border surveillance is very real here. There were a number of homeland security issues that arose and surveillance in this location was important to provide a video record if needed,” he said.

The system also had to provide the ability to monitor, document and audit the vehicles that were coming and going instead of always relying on the human component.

“VideoIQ iCVR had everything Champions was looking for in a video surveillance solution, including the ability to automatically capture critical events at the highest frame rate and quality, while recording everything at a lesser quality to minimize bandwidth and storage requirements,” he said.

Data Consultants chose Firetide’s wireless infrastructure mesh network equipment for its high performance and reliability. The mesh network provides real-time connectivity across the channel with the network nodes on shore providing the link between the mainland with the ferry operations center on the island. Connectivity over water is an especially challenging radio frequency environment due to reflective surface the radio waves have to travel over; the Firetide network handled it well and provides courtroom-quality video for any further investigation if needed. The installation took only two days to complete due to the ease of deployment of Firetide’s wireless infrastructure mesh network.

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