Download PDF version Contact company
The thermal contrast among objects in low-light and no-light conditions provides the information necessary to quickly make informed decisions
Thermal imaging cameras capture an object’s emitted heat to provide a high-contrast image

Millions of tons of cargo. Billions of dollars in goods. The activity of a small city with miles of perimeter fencing, uneven infrastructure, blind spots, and ever-changing weather conditions. Port security is no small task, yet increasingly, security operators are asked to assume more responsibilities with static, if not shrinking, budgets. As drivers of a global economy, the demands placed on port security continue to grow and with them, the challenges and complexity increase exponentially.

Leveraging Existing Infrastructure

Unlike traditional retail, commercial, and many industrial applications, ports present unique security issues that must be anticipated and addressed. Typically, high-security installations rely on a variety of solutions, including video security and surveillance. The combination of legacy analog and more modern IP-based video cameras, recording and video management systems, PSIM, analytics, and more provide a digital extension of security personnel.

Port security, however, is anything but typical. From miles of unguarded, unlit perimeters to ever-changing lighting and weather conditions, traditional video security has a difficult time providing the comprehensive intelligence demanded by such a high-security facility.

The Thermal Advantage

Once restricted to the military due to prohibitive cost, thermal imaging is an increasingly relied upon technology for an ever growing array of security — as well as process and operations management — applications. As price points have dropped, integration of thermal technology into today’s video security and surveillance camera systems has become more prevalent, providing a wealth of information and functionality previously unavailable.

As David Dorn, applied technology engineer manager at Pelco™ by Schneider Electric™ said, “Due to signi­ficant improvements in fabrication technologies, we are seeing dramatic price reductions in those thermal imaging core components (image sensors and lenses) necessary to build thermal cameras. In the last 18 months, for example, we have seen a 2x cost factor reduction in the image sensors themselves. This means that thermal technology is no longer con­ned to high-end military and government applications.”

Because many applications that rely on video security are challenged by a number of external, uncontrollable factors, including ambient light and weather, thermal imaging has cemented its position as a must-have technology to detect and observe the persons and vehicles on and near a facility — information necessary to make immediate, informed decisions.

How It Works

Whereas a visible-light camera uses light reflected off objects to build an image, thermal imaging cameras capture an object’s emitted heat to provide a high-contrast image — eliminating the need for any light source.

Available in both IP, analogue, fixed, and pan/tilt models, Sarix TI is as easy to install and use as any traditional dome camera
Sarix TI thermal camera is specifically designed to be an integrated part of any end-to-end video security solution

Using special materials like Germanium that transmit thermal energy, lenses focus a thermal image onto a thermal image sensor. Microbolometers, the sensors used to create a thermal image, feature either Vanadium Oxide or Amorphous Silicon coatings on a silicon wafer. “Similar to CCD or CMOS imagers in visible-light cameras, the microbolometer has an array of pixels with each pixel receiving heat energy proportional to the heat energy present in the scene at that point,” Dorn said.

“Because today's advanced thermal cameras can detect even minute differences in temperature, visual information that was never before available is now at a security operator's fingertips.”

The thermal contrast among objects in low-light and no-light conditions provides the information necessary to quickly make informed decisions — information that standard visible light cameras cannot deliver. And thanks to this technology, thermal imaging is also a powerful tool for applications beyond security — providing the capabilities to spot leaks, ruptures, or hot spots across bridges, dams, refi­neries, and power plants.

For many security applications, the ability to detect if a person or vehicle has entered the scene is critical. Thermal excels in this regard since the temperature of a person or vehicle is typically quite different than the background temperature of the scene. This makes people and vehicles easy to detect in thermal images, even from very long ranges. The ability to accurately and reliably detect people and vehicles is also very useful for video analytics.

Even in complete darkness or in areas obscured by fog, foliage, or other obscurants, thermal cameras alert security personnel to potential threats that may not be captured by a standard visible light camera. And this is nowhere more important than port applications, where security personnel are faced with a variety of challenges, from distant, poorly lit perimeters to unguarded waterfront access. Thermal imaging is quickly becoming a common, tried, and trusted technology, independent of or complementary to visible light cameras, to ensure 24-hour protection.

Lower Installation And Operating Costs

Interestingly, although thermal cameras still typically cost more per unit than a traditional visible camera, deployment of a thermal imaging solution in a port environment can be much more cost effective than traditional video. For one, thermal cameras have longer detection ranges, necessitating the use of fewer units, overall. Additionally, because thermal cameras do not need lighting, their use can eliminate the need for installation of light poles and their associated infrastructure. Finally, with operating costs continually under pressure, thermal cameras are attractive because they can eliminate the ongoing electrical costs of powering lights for security every night of the year.

Video Analytics

"It’s exciting to bring technology that was once limited to high-end military applications to mainstream video security"

A major advantage of thermal imaging is in its ability to deliver high-contrast images in the most challenging lighting conditions. Since thermal imaging uses heat from objects to form its image, no illumination source is needed. This means that thermal imaging works equally well in all lighting conditions — day or night under normal light, low light, or even no light conditions.

Importantly, thermal cameras provide an optimal platform for the use of video analytics. Since visible-light cameras are dependent upon reflected light, image quality and accuracy can degrade throughout a 24-hour period due to shadows, inconsistent lighting, glare, and other lighting effects over which neither security operators nor technology have control. But since thermal cameras capture an object’s thermal emission, it ignores common light conditions (whether too little or too much), which challenge traditional video analytics. The high-contrast image enables the predictable use of analytics with extremely low false-alarm rates at all hours of the day.

Sarix TI: The Premier Thermal Imaging Camera System

Sarix™ TI is the first thermal camera speci­fically designed to be an integrated part of any end-to-end video security solution. Completely operable with both Pelco and third-party video management and recording systems, Sarix TI is quite simply, the evolution of thermal imaging. Available in both IP, analog, fixed, and pan/tilt models, Sarix TI is as easy to install and use as any traditional dome camera. Bringing an all-digital design with advanced thermal imaging capabilities to mainstream video security applications, the result is an affordable camera system that delivers high-quality video, as well as the power and flexibility that only comes with thermal imaging technology.

"Today's advanced thermal cameras can detect even minute differences in temperature, visual information that was never before available is now at a security operator's fingertips"

  • Non-military thermal camera
  • Sun-safe amorphous silicon sensor
  • Plug and play with the industry’s most common recording and video management systems
  • Fully integrated sensor, camera, enclosure, and pan/tilt system
  • Fixed and pan/tilt models integration into any IP or analog system
  • Embedded analytics
  • Full and reduced frame rate options
  • Multiple resolution options, up to 640x480
  • Three-year warranty

Thermal cameras, especially those with built-in, integrated analytics, enhance the flexibility and performance of any security system. The ability of thermal imaging to immediately detect threats — typically before even the human observer — coupled with the automatic noti­fication of suspicious activity, makes you more prepared than ever to keep their property secure.

A popular example of such a deployment is virtual fencing and automated perimeter security, taking advantage of “trip wire” and other behavioral analytics. A thermal camera looking down a fence line with a virtual trip wire, people-detection analytic employed, will give a very accurate alarm if someone crosses the fence line over a long distance, day or night, under any lighting conditions. This “thermal fence” solution is much more accurate and cost effective than existing visible camera solutions, traditional deployments of microwave detectors, and even existing motion/perimeter proximity sensors.

“The ability to deploy thermal with analytics in such a cost-effective fashion opens up many new applications for this technology,” Dorn said. “It’s exciting to bring technology that was once limited to high-end military applications to mainstream video security.”

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

What New Technologies And Trends Will Shape Video Analytics?
What New Technologies And Trends Will Shape Video Analytics?

The topic of video analytics has been talked and written about for decades, and yet is still one of the cutting-edge themes in the physical security industry. Some say yesterday’s analytics systems tended to overpromise and underdeliver, and there are still some skeptics. However, newer technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are reinvigorating the sector and enabling it to finally live up to its promise. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What new technologies and trends will shape video analytics in 2021?

Tackling The Challenge Of The Growing Cybersecurity Gap
Tackling The Challenge Of The Growing Cybersecurity Gap

The SolarWinds cyberattack of 2020 was cited by security experts as “one of the potentially largest penetrations of Western governments” since the Cold War. This attack put cybersecurity front and center on people’s minds again. Hacking communication protocol The attack targeted the US government and reportedly compromised the treasury and commerce departments and Homeland Security. What’s interesting about the SolarWinds attack is that it was caused by the exploitation of a hacker who injected a backdoor communications protocol.  This means that months ahead of the attack, hackers broke into SolarWinds systems and added malicious code into the company’s software development system. Later on, updates being pushed out included the malicious code, creating a backdoor communication for the hackers to use. Once a body is hacked, access can be gained to many. An explosion of network devices What has made the threat of cyberattacks much more prominent these days has been IT's growth in the last 20 years, notably cheaper and cheaper IoT devices. This has led to an explosion of network devices. IT spending has never really matched the pace of hardware and software growth Compounding this issue is that IT spending has never really matched the pace of hardware and software growth. Inevitably, leading to vulnerabilities, limited IT resources, and an increase in IoT devices get more attention from would-be hackers. Bridging the cybersecurity gap In the author’s view, this is the main reason why the cybersecurity gap is growing. This is because it inevitably boils down to counter-strike versus counter-strike. IT teams plug holes, and hackers find new ones, that is never going to stop. The companies must continue fighting cyber threats by developing new ways of protecting through in-house testing, security best practice sources, and both market and customer leads. End-user awareness One of the key battlegrounds here is the education of end-users. This is an area where the battle is being won at present, in the author’s opinion. End-users awareness of cybersecurity is increasing. It is crucial to educate end-users on what IoT devices are available, how they are configured, how to enable it effectively, and critically, how to use it correctly and safely. Physical security network A valuable product that tackles cybersecurity is, of course, Razberi Monitor™, which is new to ComNet’s portfolio. Monitor™ is a software platform that provides a top-down view of the physical security network and ecosystem. Monitor™ is a software platform that provides a top-down view of the physical security network and ecosystem It monitors and manages all the system components for cybersecurity and system health, providing secure visibility into the availability, performance, and cyber posture of servers, storage, cameras, and networked security devices. Proactive maintenance By intelligently utilizing system properties and sensor data, Razberi’s award-winning cybersecurity software prevents problems while providing a centralized location for asset and alert management. Monitor™ enables proactive maintenance by offering problem resolutions before they become more significant problems. Identifying issues before they fail and become an outage is key to system availability and, moreover, is a considerable cost saving.

Will Airport Security’s Pandemic Measures Lead To Permanent Changes?
Will Airport Security’s Pandemic Measures Lead To Permanent Changes?

Travel volumes at airports have been increasing of late, although still below the 2.5 million or so passengers the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened every day, on average, before the pandemic. As passengers return, they will notice the airport security experience has changed during the pandemic – and many of the changes are likely to continue even longer. Need for touchless technology The lowest U.S. air travel volume in history was recorded last April, with approximately 87,500 passengers. As passenger traffic plummeted, the aviation community sought to explore the potential of new technologies to make security checkpoints more contactless and flexible when the traffic numbers return. The pandemic has seen an increase in touchless technology deployed in the screening area. Used for cabin baggage screening, Computed Tomography (CT) produces high-quality, 3-D images to enable a more thorough analysis of a bag’s contents. Imaging Technology Millimeter-wave body scanners began replacing metal detectors globally as a primary screening method Enhanced Advanced Imaging Technology (eAIT), which uses non-ionizing radio-frequency energy in the millimeter spectrum, safely screens passengers without physical contact for threats such as weapons and explosives, which may be hidden under a passenger’s clothing. Millimeter-wave body scanners began replacing metal detectors globally as a primary screening method.  AI algorithms Other innovations include an automatic screening lane, centralized image processing, and artificial intelligence (AI). Looking ahead, AI algorithms have the ability to clear most passengers and bags automatically, making the process smoother and freeing up staff to focus only on alarms. The pandemic’s need for contactless screening may accelerate the adoption of AI.   CAT machine Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) machines automatically verify identification documents presented by passengers during the screening process. The TSA continues to accept expired Driver’s Licenses and state-issued IDs for up to a year after expiration, based on the premise that license renewals may be delayed and/or more difficult during the pandemic. The REAL ID enforcement deadline was extended to Oct. 1, 2021.  Health precautions Checkpoint health precautions have been a part of the airport screening experience since early in the pandemic. Last summer, the TSA announced the “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure” campaign, which included requirements such as social distancing among travelers, ID verification without physical contact, plastic shielding installed at various locations, and increased cleaning and disinfecting. In January 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order requiring travelers to wear face masks when in airports and other transportation facilities (to remain in effect until May 11). Checkpoint screening Clear is a privately owned company that provides expedited security that uses biometrics either a person’s eyes or face to speed along the process of getting people through checkpoints. TSA officers wear masks and gloves at checkpoints and may also wear eye protection or clear plastic face shields. The limits on allowable liquids a passenger may take on board were broadened to include a hand sanitizer container of up to 12 ounces, one per passenger in a carry-on bag. a paradigm shift Just as aviation security changed after 9/11, the COVID-19 crisis is expected to lead to a paradigm shift to create a safer and more secure environment. Measures were implemented so that passengers, staff and other stakeholders could have continued assurance and confidence in airports amid and after the pandemic.