PureTech Systems currently addresses the issue of man overboard detection through the use of intelligent video technology. Its man overboard (MOB) system captures images using thermal cameras surrounding the ship’s perimeter, extending from the lowest passenger deck to the waterline. The result is a system that addresses a need in the cruise line industry to accurately and quickly detect and notify a ship’s crew of a possible MOB event. However, this same technology can also address other problems within the maritime industry: piracy and unlawful boarding. Although cruise ships try to avoid operating in high risk areas, the threat of piracy, hijacking and kidnapping is still a safety issue which must be considered. Ideally, early detection and deterrence measures can be taken to keep pirates at a safe distance from the vessel, but in situations where this cannot occur, or in the case of a covert boarding attempt, the same technology used to detect a person falling from a ship can also be used to help detect an illegal boarding attempt.
The man overboard system from PureTech Systems utilizes a patented approach using geospatial video analytics and pairs of thermal imaging cameras which face each other. The synchronized video clips are then used to not only accurately detect a fall, but also to ignore environmental interference, background imagery from various sea states and shoreline views as well as avoiding false alarms due to normal operating conditions such as blowing debris, crew operations and other deck activity.
Key components of the solution, including the ability to determine an object’s real size, classification, location, speed and trajectory – confirmed via synchronized data from the two independent camera views – have a secondary benefit; mainly the ability to also act as anti-boarding detection system. When used in this manner, the class of the object (human, boat, etc.) is used, along with location data, speed, trajectory and background modeling to determine if a person is moving upward, onto the ship. If this is the case, the system can provide a video-based anti-boarding alarm for verification and immediate action by the crew.
The solution also has the capability to identify and suppress alarms on events which may exhibit traits of an anti-boarding event, but in fact are a result of normal crew operation, such as a worker performing maintenance on the outside of the vessel. Additional intelligence applied to the specific actions of the worker, such as the deck at which he begins maintenance, crew change confirmation and direction of movement, can remove these maintenance actions as potential anti-boarding alarms.
Current industry actions around man overboard will likely have a positive effect on anti-boarding technology, as well. Industry regulations and mandates have created an increased need for MOB systems, which will be required on all cruise ships carrying more 250 passengers which stop at a U.S. port. It’s also likely that international mandates will follow. Most cruise lines operating under these conditions have been testing MOB systems extensively over the last year to help them determine the best system which will meet their operating needs, and to understand how best to install and incorporate these systems into their safety procedures. Most will begin formal purchasing with the expected release of the ISO MOB standard, anticipated before the end of 2017. As part of selecting these systems, cruise lines are evaluating how to get the biggest value from these required expenditures. One means is selecting an MOB system which can also aid in their protection against anti-boarding capability. Having a system which can perform both MOB detection and alert on potential unwanted boarding can create a larger return on their investment.
For many markets, including the cruise line industry, safety and security are always difficult value propositions as systems designed to meet these requirements don’t add to the company’s’ profits and the loss associated with these events are subject to probabilities. When budgets become tight, these types of systems don’t typically make the cut. However, the ability to use a single technology to meet several safety and security needs can ease the purchase burden and result in a safer environment for the passengers and the crew. The use of intelligent video to achieve both man overboard detection and alarming against anti-boarding is one such example.