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360 Vision Technology, the UK CCTV manufacturer, has partnered with Navtech Radar. As the firms say, radar is often thought to be the preserve of only airports and ports, but they say radar can be used across a variety of applications.
Radar operates using the same principles as echolocation – the same system that bats and dolphins use to navigate with, by emitting sounds that bounce off nearby objects. Based on the volume of the sounds that return and the time it takes, they are able to produce an accurate map of their environment.
Instead of sound, radar transmits a pulse of radio energy, so in a similar way that echolocations works, radar is able to determine the position and range of an object by measuring the time it takes for the radio energy to be reflected and returned. Because the speed that the radio energy travels at is known, the radar receiver can measure the time it takes for the energy to return, and using its built-in software, instantly and accurately calculate the precise distance and position of the target.
Based on how much radar energy is reflected back, a figure of merit can be calculated for each target, and the size and identity of objects determined by the built-in software. A radar receiver is a sensitive piece of measuring equipment that detects target objects along with an element of environmental ‘noise’ from any area of coverage. To reduce the chance of false alarms, radar software can apply a threshold that a signal must exceed before it is considered to be a valid target. This level of target identification can be critical to systems covering areas where traditional detection methods, such as fence line detectors or camera analytics software may fail to identify an object clearly enough. This will lead to false alarms and operators being alerted needlessly, causing more workload.
With conventional movement sensors and object detectors such as fence line systems, a light has to enter a detector unit or a beam blocked for the sensor to register activity and alert an operator. In real-world applications, many variables can block or disrupt this. Sensors and detectors are a passive technology – waiting to be triggered. Radar is an active technology, which emits a signal at regular intervals and unlike passive solutions, radar is always asking the question ‘What’s out there?’
Radar can track multiple objects too, up to forty in the case of 360 Vision Technology’s Predator Radar ‘all-in-one’ wide area PTZ camera. Its on-board software will identity targets objects and continue to track them until they leave the monitored area (or beyond if required). This helps CCTV operators to be alerted to a situation, and identify where and what the object is – reducing false alarm rates compared to passive detectors that only know that something is in the area – not path or identity.
Radar versus analytics
Versus analytics, radar has the advantage of gathering information from a three-dimensional map of any scene, and giving a bearing to within 17cm, even at an extended range. Analytics based systems need to make alarm decisions on information deduced from a two dimensional screen and individual pixels, so therefore cannot be as accurate at identifying objects and tracking their movements throughout a monitored area. This means analytics based tracking systems may alert an operator to movement or intrusion that is later determined to be a false alarm by the operator – which again, results in increasing overall workload in the control room, the makers point out.
Often video camera prices are directly compared to the cost of radar alternatives, but it is important to consider the total cost of installing and then maintaining a system, the firms suggest. Radar units cover a minimum distance of 300m, and can be spread out accordingly. Video analytics based cameras typically require a spacing of between 60m to 80m; this means that five times more video cameras are required compared to radar systems to provide the same area coverage, according to the firms.
This has a direct impact on infrastructure and installation cost – meaning a radar system requires over five times less cabling, less power, less communication equipment and less manpower to install. Therefore, the total cost of installation is far lower for a radar system compared to a typical camera system. The firms add that radar units do not require regular maintenance. A service is required only once every five years, to change wearing parts – a process that often takes less than 45 minutes per radar head. This means less downtime for system maintenance and reduced cost versus other alternatives.
The firms point out that video-based systems require control of the ambient environment, to control the false alarm rate. These conditions are disrupted in the case of an on-site non-security procedure or incident and can perform poorly in adverse and changing weather – increasing the false alarm rate. The companies say that radar can perform in smoke, fire, fog, and even extreme weather such as sandstorms.
360 Vision’s Predator Radar is an integral radar controlled, 360 degree, auto tracking and following ‘all-in-one’ PTZ camera, able to automatically detect and continually monitor targets. Applications the makers claim are where the detection of objects or individuals is vital, such as within perimeter protection fence lines, sterile zones, prisons, borders, airports and military sites. Predator Radar it’s claimed can track up to 40 targets simultaneously with 400m of coverage. Thanks to its 0.013 or 0.008Lux integrated HD video surveillance camera and radar unit construction, no servers or software is required for commissioning. Predator Radar scans 360 degrees twice every second to detect and track objects, with all alarm activations overlaid on screen. The camera unit’s radar detection is unaffected by weather the makers add, so object detection and alarm functionality is continuous, even in adverse weather.