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Seaside security at ports: 4 key points for customers and integrators

Seaside security at ports: 4 key points for customers and integrators
Here's a look at the significant seaside security threats, solutions, and challenges limiting the implementation of solutions at ports.
As a security systems integrator, have you provided services to a port or a harbor? Have you ever had to consider the enormity of the site and the massive number of ways that security threats can find their way in?
A harbor or port is one of the most high-risk areas in any country. Protecting the landside alone is an arduous task, but what to do when you must protect the port from seaside security risks too? In fact, seaside security threats are often more complicated and require innovative thinking and unique applications. recently spoke to Kenneth Nystrom, CEO of Securify, to get his perspectives on the significant seaside security threats, solutions, and challenges limiting the implementation of solutions.

1. Major seaside security threats at ports  

Overwater is a challenging environment to monitor. There is a large area to cover, and difficult weather conditions such as fog are relatively common. Using cameras (optical or thermal) alone to detect movements is most likely to fail and could be very expensive.

"And even if it is economically viable to cover the port perimeter with cameras, during situations with harsh weather they are expected to fail due to limited visibility, as even thermals are affected by rain, snow, and fog," Nystrom pointed out.

A harbor is also a very dynamic area with different activities on the water at different locations. It is difficult to predict where an incident will occur and cover it with enough cameras.

2. Major solutions for seaside security at ports

To detect movements over large areas, regardless of weather conditions, radar is the best option. By pairing PTZ-cameras with a radar system, you will combine superior detection capabilities with instant visual verification.
"Adding AI video analytics to this would further improve the solution," Nystrom said. "Considering that the end-user expects the system to be able to distinguish authorized movements from unidentified (unauthorized), radar offers yet another advantage through its capability to provide precise positions of various targets. Those positions could be matched with real-time position data from AIS transponders."   
  • Integrating a radar to PTZ camera

A radar management system (RMS) manages PTZ-cameras to track qualified targets. There is no need for configuring presets in the camera - it receives a pan/tilt/zoom command every second from the RMS. When multiple targets are qualified, the RMS manages to cycle between them or prioritize the newest or closest. Or the security operator can decide to lock the camera to a certain target. 
  • Using the right analytics solution

To protect a harbor from seaside security challenges, you would need an AI analytic software that can analyze video feed from a moving camera. This is because RMS re-positions the PTZ-camera every second when tracking targets.
"To recognize people, the video stream needs to provide a minimum of 100 pixels resolution on targets," Nystrom pointed out. "Using a PTZ-camera paired with a radar, classifications at 250m range are doable. No perspective settings are required, unlike the old generation of video analytics (more kind of advanced motion detection). This is of great importance though it enables large scale deployments with a minimum of configuration."    

Also read: LiDAR can work wonders in security 

3. Challenges limiting adequate security at seaports  

Even though there are solutions that work, challenges in their implementation make things difficult. One of the main hurdles is the lack of know-how regarding what sensor technology best fits over-water intrusion detection. End users, consultants, and system integrators often see visual sensors as the solution.
"Another challenge is to position the sensors so that large ships do not block the sensor's FOV," Nystrom continued. "The radar system should be integrated with the port traffic management system to match all AIS transponder data with radar tracks. When the authorized targets reach a specified distance, the tracks should be fused to a 'friendly target.'"
 This capability will help to avoid security operator fatigue. When a threat is confirmed and the security operator is supposed to mitigate the threat, a strong spotlight with narrow beamwidth could be quite useful. Though there are few or no landmarks over water, the security operator could also use the spotlight as a pointer. 

4. Clarity on standards and comparison to airports   

As for international airports, there are regulations to prevent terror-related attacks, contraband, trafficking, etc., at seaports too. Both airports and seaports have security screening procedures when entering the facility.
"The parts that are more vulnerable to intrusions are the airside and seaside," Nystrom said. "Large open areas (over water or asphalt) with working zones that contain a lot of authorized activity, both vehicles and people. The event chain is the same, regardless of it being an airport or a harbor."
The security process includes detection, verification, classification, identification, and finally, mitigation. This process is critical to maintaining a robust perimeter security system that detects any authorized attempts to access the aircraft or ship without being detected.     

Also read: Airports after COVID-19 


Offering seaside security is often a complex process, not just because of the sea itself but also because of the high risks at stake. A clear understanding of the challenges and solutions would go a long way in making the work of an integrator easier. Adhering to regulations is also critical to ensure that the end customer does not run into any trouble with the authorities.

Main Image Courtesy: ©kamonrat/123RF.COM

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