All Clear at the Port
British ports need flexibility and high definition
- By Keith Marett
- Oct 01, 2011
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
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.
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
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
“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.
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
“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
“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
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
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.