Optelecom-NKF Surveillance System Deployed at Dutch Port for Shipping Traffic Control

Every year, more than 400 million tons of cargo go through the Port of Rotterdam, making it one of the most dynamic and influential centers of economic activity. It goes without saying then that goods need to be able to pass through this economic axis as smoothly and efficiently as possible. It will come as no surprise that the maritime and vehicular traffic management system in this region was once an item of acute interest to all parties involved; the effectiveness of the Port of Rotterdam relies, namely, on the proficient and fluid transportation of freight.

The Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management is responsible for managing all the roads and waterways throughout the Netherlands, including those going into and out of the Port of Rotterdam. Over the past decade, the ministry's implementation component, Rijkswaterstaat (RWS), has worked to develop and strategically position five centralized traffic control centers that now manage all the traffic in the Netherlands.

One of these new centers, the control center known as VMC-ZWN, currently maintains a complete overview of the thoroughfares, channels and shipping canals surrounding the illustrious port. From VMC-ZWN, operators can monitor and control all the main tunnels, bridges and the interconnecting motorways in the southwest region of the Netherlands.

However, just five years ago, the network system allowing the VMC-ZWN control center to manage traffic at all was still just an idea to be worked out. Due to the sheer magnitude of both the scope and importance of VMC-ZWN's jurisdiction, the traffic management system at this control center needed to be not only intelligent and innovative, but infallible. Therefore, RWS solicited for a solution with clear, real-time images, and incredibly high service availability capabilities. Optelecom-NKF, along with system integrators GTI and Imtech Projects, took on this challenge.

Optelecom-NKF was asked to design and deploy a multiservice network capable of servicing up to 600 DVD-quality video inputs and outputs, 144 audio connections, LAN data, and an array of telemetry. The availability of each service had to be at least 99.8 percent. Optelecom-NKF became responsible for the design, installation and commissioning of the network system, which included an array of equipment and technology, from encoders, access switches, and routers to virtual matrix software.

The real challenge involved in RWS' assignment was in designing an Ethernet network that met the established redundancy requirements. In the system that Optelecom-NKF created, a fractured fiber or node failure in the access ring, for example, does not have any effect on the other rings. As such, a complete recovery of all the other services, such as video, audio, and data streams can occur within a fraction of a second.

To meet the high video quality and low latency requirements, Optelecom-NKF chose to enlist its codecs, which convert MPEG-2 video, audio, data, and dry contact signals to individual IP streams. By using these codecs and control software, a virtual matrix came to replace the external video and audio matrices.

In order to effectively manage the extensive range of streams required, all video, audio, and data streams are sent to a central router inside the traffic management building. By using multicast for the video streams, IGMP snooping in the switches, and PIM in the routers, video switching and routing is executed entirely by the network. This allows the fifteen personalized video walls at the control center to display up to 600 images simultaneously. While this large number of streams initially proved to put an extra strain on the LAN, especially on the central router, careful design was able to balance the load through distributing the bandwidth burden between the switches.

From the concept phase of the project through to the writing of the tender documents, RWS always realized the potential risks that were involved in the application of novel technology. Therefore, they insisted on an extensive testing program, spanning every phase of the project, from proof-of-concept testing at the outset through to various integration and integral on-site tests.

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