All Clear at the Port

All Clear at the Port

British ports need flexibility and high definition

To help comply with industry regulations, boost security and improve operational efficiencies, Associated British Ports (ABP) needed a flexible HD surveillance system that could easily integrate with the port operator’s existing analog system. Port officials turned to Avigilon for Control Center software with high-definition stream management (HDSM) to manage the HD surveillance system 24/7.

The surveillance system has helped ABP improve operational efficiencies at two of its ports. By leveraging its existing network infrastructure for the project, the company was able to reduce installation time and costs and has been able to centralize several processes, including weighbridge and lockgate operations, that can now be managed remotely via the surveillance system.

Security Compliance

With 21 ports and more than 1,500 employees, ABP is the United Kingdom’s largest port operator and leading cruise port operator, moving one-quarter of the country’s seaborne trade. It transports such diverse cargo as coal, containers, iron ore and vehicles. In compliance with industry regulations such as the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, ABP has reduced risk by deploying a comprehensive security system across all its sites, helping to ensure the successful management of international trade through its ports.

Surveillance is a critical component of ABP’s overall security initiative, but it also plays a key role in building a safety-first culture that protects the health and safety of employees, enhancing overall productivity.

“With the HD surveillance system in place, we can monitor the entire port operations—from loading ships to crane operations—from a centralized location to ensure port security, employee safety and productivity,” said Michael Howarth, Humber IT infrastructure manager at ABP. “As a result, we can strengthen security, improve operational flow and reduce costs for better overall operational performance.”

With the assistance of Global Vision CCTV Ltd., a local provider of surveillance system design, installation and service, ABP installed HD surveillance at the ports of Grimsby and Immingham.

“We were not getting the image quality or reliability we needed from our previous system,” said Howarth, who also noted that the previous software was cumbersome to use. When ABP began to roll out its internal network infrastructure, the team determined that network-based IP cameras would more effectively meet the company’s needs. “The system is versatile and flexible enough to support hardware from many vendors, including analog cameras, and can leverage our existing cabling for a more cost-effective and powerful surveillance solution.”

In High Definition

The very nature of a port’s geography can cause significant challenges, Howarth said, especially when it comes to deploying any technology infrastructure, including surveillance.

“When we transitioned over to a fiber network, we matured from having local installations running over coaxial cable to needing a more advanced, networkbased surveillance solution that can accommodate various types of cameras, including wireless,” Howarth said.

ABP deployed the Control Center NVMS and installed Avigilon HD megapixel cameras, analog video encoders and NVRs, all connected wirelessly and accessible across both ports, a distance of seven miles.

Reaching Out

At the Port of Immingham, six 5-megapixel HD cameras connect through the fiber network backbone to the marine control room. There, operators monitor and control the lockgates, which open and close to allow ships to pass through, and ensure that there are no obstructions that would prevent the gates from opening when required. Footage is stored on one NVR. At the Immingham Bulk Park, four Avigilon analog video encoders are used to integrate a new analog PTZ camera and existing analog cameras into the HD surveillance. Four other HD cameras provide site overview and monitor the entrance and exit to the weighbridges where cargo is weighed.

At the Port of Grimsby, ABP installed 11 cameras to monitor vehicle entry and exit, and to identify driver and license plate details. An additional three cameras were installed to cover the junction leading to the control room. Security staff use Control Center software to manage the system 24/7 and store 30 days of continuous footage on two NVRs.

Image Quality and Speed of Playback

ABP security staff said they have been impressed with image quality and speed of playback, using the advanced features of Control Center software to identify details necessary for positive identification. This has led to faster response times and more successful investigations.

“With our previous surveillance system, we would struggle to identify the details necessary to make a positive ID,” Howarth said. “In fact, we could not capture license plates or facial details even with very good lighting conditions.” Since deploying the surveillance system, Howarth said he has has noticed an improvement in the ability to pinpoint a specific event with exceptional image clarity for quick identification and resolution.

“Even in the middle of the night, we can zoom in on a specific event and leverage Control Center’s digital enhancement features to pull out the detail we need,” he said.

When local law enforcement officers are called in to help investigate an incident, ABP can now provide more tangible evidence, faster.

“Before, we would spend a lot of time trying to locate a specific event and end up with poor-quality footage that was not up to standard,” said Howarth, adding that he has been very impressed with the speed at which he can now drill down to a specific event for immediate inspection. “Going through footage on our previous surveillance system was cumbersome, leaving big gaps in time between selecting a timeline and displaying the image. Control Center’s advanced functionality allows us to manipulate an image in real time and enables us to track when footage was actually recorded to more quickly and accurately identify the images in question.”

HD Surveillance Centralizes Port Operations

With its simple management tools and advanced functionality, the software has proven to be user-friendly.

“We have eight full-time staff using the system live and four ad-hoc users who can view the system from their laptops,” Howarth said. “To date, we have been able to easily get them up on the system with no significant challenges. Installing the system at the ports of Grimsby and Immingham also was straightforward.”

Not only has the surveillance system surpassed ABP’s security requirements, but it is also cost-effective.

“We were able to leverage our existing network infrastructure and cables to reduce installation time and costs,” Howarth said. “But more importantly, the system has enabled us to centralize several of our processes, including the operation of our weighbridges and lock gates, which can now be managed remotely through the surveillance system in one location.”

As a result, ABP can contain its operational staff costs at each location. With the HD surveillance system in place, ABP also has invested in a scalable surveillance solution that can expand to meet growing needs.

Having achieved a significant improvement in security and operational productivity, ABP has been pleased with its decision to deploy the surveillance system at the two ports, Howarth said.

He added: “Avigilon provides highquality HD surveillance across a varied infrastructure and is flexible enough to integrate with existing CCTV systems as well as analog-based systems, using the most advanced technology instead of relying on modified old technology.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue of Security Today.

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