All Eyes on Iceland
High-resolution network cameras capture Icelandic volcano eruptions
Eyjafjallajökull is one of the smaller glaciovolcanoes
in Iceland, but when it erupted in March
and April, its impacts were felt globally.
Quiet for nearly two centuries, the volcanco’s
eruption on March 20 was measured at a Volcanic
Explosivity Index of 1. Five hundred local residents
were evacuated, but were allowed to return home
within 24 hours.
The second eruption on April 14, an eruption
10 to 20 times more powerful, caused volcanic ash
plumes to shoot between three and seven miles into
the atmosphere. This time, the eruption was measured
at VEI 4. Melted ice caused river levels to rise
by 10 feet and flood concerns dictated the evacuation
of 800 people. The eruptions also created rare and
spectacular electrical storms.
Because the eruption occurred beneath glacial
ice, melted ice quickly chilled the lava, creating a
glass-rich plume, which caused substantial air traffic
disruption for days, from the United States to as
far as Russia. As volcanic ash can’t be detected by
radar, once encountered by pilots, it can greatly reduce
visibility and damage engines to the point of
shutting them down. More than 100,000 flights were
cancelled between April 15 and 21, stranding millions
of travelers and costing the airline industry an
estimated $1.7 billion.
A Brewing Collaboration
When signs of an impending eruption were observed,
Mila, Iceland’s telecommunication network provider,
positioned a Mobotix camera on top of Valahnukur,
a nearby mountain, to capture the event.
“Securitas and Mila began their collaboration
somewhat before the eruption in March, when we
were looking at possibilities for mounting cameras
in several places around the country,” said Hordur
Agustsson, marketing specialist at Mila. “Eyjafjallajökull
glacier was one of those places, especially since
we knew there was a possibility of an eruption. We
can therefore say that the collaboration began at just
the right moment in time.”
Once news of the eruptions broke, Mila became inundated
with inquiries from all over the world, asking
for images of the eruption. In response, they teamed
with Securitas to install four Mobotix M24 and D12
high-resolution network cameras at the cities of
Pórólfsfelli, Hvolsvelli and Hvolsvöllur to capture live
streaming video of the eruption. In order to support
thousands of viewers simultaneously accessing the
video steams, Mila also enlisted the support of Kukl,
a broadcast services company.
“Mobotix cameras were chosen for this project
because of the quality of our products,” said Steve
Gorski, the general manager of the Americas for Mobotix.
“Our products have a proven track record of
operating in harsh environments. In fact, Mobotix
was the first company to develop a weatherproof
camera right out of the box.”
“In my opinion, the Mobotix cameras are best
suited to these conditions since they are independent
units and do not need a lot of equipment,” said Haflidi
Jonsson, business director at Securitas. “They are
strong, well built, do not require much electricity and
can be used under quite difficult circumstances. They
also provide much better resolution than similar cameras
and provide a clear and good picture.”
The Right Mix of Technology
Key to Mobotix’s success is decentralized technology,
which stores recordings and images on the edge. End
users benefit from lower network bandwidth and can
achieve cost-effective high-resolution images without
adding networking and storage infrastructure.
The M24 and D12 exchangeable-lens cameras
were outfitted with hemispheric lenses that provide
“One hemispheric camera can replace the view of
four traditional cameras,” Gorski said.
The M24 cameras also feature an internal digital
video recorder with up to 32 GB of storage capacity
and high-resolution recording up to 3.1 megapixels.
The cameras are weatherproof from -22 to 140 degrees
Fahrenheit—achieved without a heater or fan,
and consuming only 3 watts of power—and feature
digital PTZ and two-way audio. The DualDome
D12 employs two lenses and two high-resolution image
sensors. Without any moving parts, maintenance
is minimal, making them ideal for the extreme Icelandic
Capturing the World’s Attention
Viewers from 190 countries have accessed the live video
streams, surpassing 4 million hits and making the
Mila webpage the most popular in Iceland.
Links to the camera video stream can be found at
About the Author
Sherleen Mahoney is a Web managing editor at 1105 Media.