Safer Ship Travel with Milestone and Axis IP Video Surveillance

Safer Ship Travel with Milestone and Axis IP Video Surveillance

Milestone Systems’ open platform IP video management software (VMS) is installed in the Norwegian ship service called “Hurtigruten,” with network cameras from Axis Communications. An engine room fire in 2011 prompted renovations with innovative surveillance technology for safety and operational excellence.

Safer Ship Travel with Milestone and Axis IP Video SurveillanceHurtigruten is a traditional ferry service for the transportation of goods and passengers between Bergen and Kirkenes in Norway. Serving the coastal population since 1866, it is both a transport route and a tourist attraction. The route currently has 11 vessels calling at 34 ports every day of the year, transporting more than 230,000 passengers. 

The route has been called “the most beautiful voyage in the world.” In 2006 the travel publisher Lonely Planet ranked Hurtigruten the best voyage in the world on its Blue List. In 2007 the UK’s Travel Weekly pronounced Hurtigruten the best in the world for special cruises.

Fire prompts total renovation

In September of 2011, an explosive fire broke out in the engine room of one of Hurtigruten's vessels, MS Nordlys. The passengers and crew were evacuated, but the fire caused great damage to the vessel, which required five months of shipyard repairs. Nordlys was not able to re-enter service until March 2012. In connection with the renovation, it was decided to replace and modernize the communication system and infrastructure. 

The consultancy firm NCMC was engaged to develop the new system standard. NCMC are consultants for maritime IT system solutions and act as a test center, evaluating solutions for all needs on board a vessel. The objective is to install innovative technology of the highest quality with the best functionality.

Move from analog to IP technology

The old infrastructure on board the MS Nordlys was based on an analog matrix that was completely destroyed in the fire. When the new telephone cables were laid, a modern IP network was also installed. The old analog surveillance cameras were replaced with the latest in IP video technology. Network cameras from Axis Communications were installed, with XProtect Professional video management software (VMS) from Milestone Systems. MS Nordlys thereby improved the safety and security of the passengers and crew, as well as communication on board.

"The total surveillance solution is very good because Axis has cameras that fit into many different environments, and Milestone's software is flexible, reliable and easy to use. My objective is always to find the state-of-the-art, and the Axis/Milestone combination provides this," said Idar Floe, CEO of NCMC.

Installing IP networks on board ships can be a challenge since they move all the time. If you want to have contact with shore, you risk interruption when the vessel moves. On MS Nordlys, this was solved by using three different network technologies that complement and back each other up. This guarantees contact with the control rooms in ports. 

"By using a common IT-based standard for the infrastructure, this solution can also be implemented on other ships. It is then easier for the control rooms on shore to communicate with the ships in service," said Floe.

Video improves operational performance

Essential ship operations benefit from using the surveillance such as guest reception, the retail shop, unloading and loading, wharf landings, the car deck traffic, the bridge overview and the engine room all represent task areas for the crew, who gain better performance and safety from the video monitoring.

Video from the engine room helps the engineers on board to make sure that everything is in proper working order. Monitoring also ensures additional safety for the crew in the engine room; colleagues located elsewhere on the ship can be alerted if something happens, requiring fast response. The camera installed on the mast also lets the captain see the color of the engine smoke that could signal a fire has broken out below. 

"The image quality from the Axis cameras is very high. We have also benefited greatly from Milestone's solution. It provides an overview and control that is easy and intuitive to use, as well as providing improved safety for the passengers," said the Captain of MS Nordlys, Ole Johan Andreassen.

Hurtigruten may add more cameras in the future, and the Milestone open platform can flexibly expand as needed to manage this. The company is also looking at intelligent video analytics for counting people, an integration that can be beneficial in emergency situations like an evacuation.

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