Improved Surveillance

Improved Surveillance

Louisiana’s Port Fourchon deploys IP video at strategic oil site

Port Fourchon plays a strategic role in supplying the United States with nearly 18 percent of its oil supply, servicing over 90 percent of the Gulf of Mexico’s deep-water exploration and production. As the first land point of contact, this includes more than 600 rigs and platforms within a 40-mile radius. Securing such an essential portion of the Gulf Coast requires a handson team of security professionals to watch for unauthorized activities and enhance the safety of workers and officers.

Louisiana’s Port Fourchon has unique safety standards to combat potentially devastating safety issues that may damage vessels, equipment and products, and injure people working at the port. Obsolete surveillance equipment previously used to monitor the area was not sufficient to support the port’s new GLPC-C4 (C4) platform, so a new video management system was required to provide clearer imaging, improved storage capabilities, wider coverage and flexible video management. When evaluating options, Port Fourchon officials chose Milestone XProtect Enterprise video management software (VMS).

Milestone XProtect Enterprise software has been deployed by Convergent Technologies to manage 64 cameras from Bosch and Pelco. With Milestone’s ability to display video in real time and its open platform architecture for integration with analytics from BRS Labs, the port’s staff has the benefit of a much more comprehensive and responsive video surveillance resource. Alerts from the video analytics system are fed through XProtect, and then to the port’s C4 platform, where they are integrated with other alerts to create improved overall situational awareness. Several strategic elements are deployed in the port’s surveillance network, and these elements work in unison to create complete behavioral analytics.

The biggest advantage seen by the port is the ability to have the dispatchers—through the C4 common operating picture interface— pull up all camera views that they need to address an alert or an incident. It is easy to add more cameras to the port’s surveillance network, which the port did in conjunction with the installation of a new radar system from DMT, since the Milestone open platform supports the largest variety of manufacturer models.

“On a day-to-day basis, we are observing numerous points of interest throughout the port, in addition to providing a helping hand to the security officers,” said April Danos, director of IT at Port Fourchon. “The video surveillance system has been taken to an entirely new level, integrating multiple systems for complete coverage. This open platform allows us to feed video analytics and disparate cameras through it, and the entire port is benefiting immensely.”

A Top Hub in Our Nation’s Oil Supply Chain

About 80 percent of all Gulf oil comes from deep water. In addition to being the premier service base for the Gulf ’s tremendous domestic hydrocarbon supply, Port Fourchon is the land base for Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), which handles 10 percent of imported oil.

Port security and the police have their work cut out for them, ensuring the nation’s oil supply and every piece of equipment used to transport the product, workers and vessels are kept secure on a dayto- day basis.

The previous surveillance system, installed more than a decade ago, was not up to the standards required by the port for its new C4 installation. Many members of the port’s security department and police force experienced difficulties with the existing video system for its less-than-user-friendly interface, slow feeds, minimal storage and the need for more cameras.

“We all agreed that our new video management system should be easy to integrate and allow us to dovetail with our legacy equipment, while having an opportunity to shop around for upgraded hardware without any proprietary restrictions,” Danos said. “The ability to scale up over the years to increase the port’s protection was another very important aspect that needed to be addressed with the incoming VMS solution.”

Key points in the port’s request for proposals included a system with minimal maintenance requirements, video display in real time, user-friendly operation and the ability to easily integrate a variety of already installed and soon-to-be-installed components, servers, cameras and analytics software, for instance.


Priority 5’s Touch Assisted Command and Control System (TACCS) powers the port’s C4 system. TACCS is an all-hazard, command and control, operations platform that integrates the VMS inputs with other data feeds to support the port’s security and situational awareness. Developed in response to situational awareness requirements of the Defense Department, the platform aligned with Port Fourchon’s vision for a centralized system into which all elements would be integrated, providing directors and police with full coverage of the analytics, radar, access control and security systems.

“Our goal is to enable the port to use TACCS and its open architecture to create the most comprehensive and flexible situational awareness solution possible,” said Joe Kammerman, vice president of Priority 5. “Working with other companies, such as Milestone, that designs their solutions around open architectures, has proven to create a real value to customers, especially in today’s environment where budgets are tighter and people need to do more with less.”

With input from the port and other early adopters, TACCS and the C4 system have evolved over the years, and now provide wide area situational awareness and response capabilities to Port Fourchon’s Harbor Police dispatchers, Lafourche Parish Sheriff ’s Office, the parish EOC, LOOP, and the port administrative, operations and IT departments.

“Many companies claim to provide an integrated system, but what they deliver is more likely to consist of a large number of windows scattered on a screen, without any data integration,” Danos said. “Milestone’s integration of video management and very detailed analytics literally gives our operators one single data feed through which the port’s entire surveillance system can be readily accessed, as needed. We don’t miss a beat, which is priority number one when dealing with the safety of those at the port.”

The Setup

Several C4 stations throughout the port contain command centers equipped with the VMS: three within the main office in Galliano, La.; one setup two miles from the port in the harbor police headquarters; and one in the port itself. The LOOP system is networked into the Milestone software and Lafourche Parish Sherriff ’s Office, with access to the port’s live feeds. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also is connected to the port for cases of emergency, and each registered user in the port security team has immediate access to video archives, going back as far as two months.

“We have a good mixture of different makes and models of camera hardware and different analytics strategically deployed,” Danos said. “We are pleased with the way Milestone’s open platform enables us to explore multiple opportunities without worry of technology being rejected or reworking our entire system. All of the systems we implement in the port are brought in with the security factor in mind.”

All of the port’s surveillance systems work in unison with a behavior analytics system. Milestone is the only interface that can process this large amount of information, according to Bruce Whitaker of BRS Labs.

“Alerts come right through the port’s Milestone XProtect setup,” said Whitaker. “We can provide a brief clip of any target, time-anddate stamp it and inject it into the alarm. The users are looking at real-time video with the alerts built right in. No event goes unseen.”

The Benefits

The software is a day-to-day video management system, providing video inputs and archives to officers at the port to protect against criminal activity while helping to identify damage done to the docks or vessels that have been left unattended for long periods of time.

“Nothing held up to the qualities of Milestone when we were researching for the port software integration,” Whitaker said. “During the selection process, its capabilities were front and center. If we had any limit on our VMS options, we wouldn’t have a fraction of the benefits the port offers its security team now.”

As the video product feeds the C4 common operating picture, dispatchers maintain the big picture while having the ability to monitor video surveillance throughout the port. There are hundreds of continuous activities going on throughout the port at any time. With all systems integrated, the officers can concentrate on security itself, while not worrying about the system working properly.

“The port has transformed its security platform to a new level,” Danos said. “We are working to be as far-sighted as possible, with the integration of our numerous, best-of-breed applications so that the C4 system will always provide the highest level of maritime domain awareness. Starting with the Milestone open platform has allowed us to integrate numerous video applications through it, and the entire port is benefiting immensely.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Security Today.

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