Man-Overboard Detection and Monitoring

OVERVIEW: The cruise line industry has recognized the need for man overboard (MOB) detection systems and many manufacturers have invested research and development to create technology which results in accurate detection and notification, including the video-based system developed by PureTech Systems.  The result is a system with highly accurate detection and the capability to supply crew members with critical event location data to reduce the delay between the time of the event and the deployment of rescue procedures


Test Dummy for Man Overboard Testing

Man-overboard detection systems must reliably analyze real-time information with high accuracy to provide precise probability of detection with a minimal false alarm rate.

The marine industry has been innovating and implementing advanced state-of-the-art technologies to ensure safety of the people on board ships and other vessels.   Ships are constantly subjected to environmental and weather changes, and climate and waves tend to become rough and hazardous as a ship enters deep waters. During these difficult times, there is a high chance that a person might fall overboard.

A man-overboard (MOB) event may occur due to various reasons, some accidental, some intentional. In response, the U.S. government introduced regulations by signing the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) in 2010. The act introduced the requirement of automatic man-overboard detection/monitoring systems and operators’ need to record and track these types of events.

As a result of these regulations, many companies are now developing systems that can detect and sound an alarm in the case of man-overboard events. These systems must reliably analyze real-time information with high accuracy to provide precise probability of detection with a minimal false alarm rate.  The systems must also be affordable and easily installed, taking into account the minimal downtime available for cruise ship maintenance.


PureTech Systems, a U.S. company which develops intelligent video solutions in the security and safety space, has patented a software algorithm and provides a corresponding system to monitor and sound an alarm in the event of a man falling overboard under a wide range of weather condition and sea states.  The imaging system provides video data to the PureTech Systems’ algorithm which is then able to analyze, compute and locate overboard events along the ship’s periphery, regardless of fall height.

The detailed detection methodology utilizes multiple cues including adherence to a characteristic fall path, speed, size, type and acceleration of the object.  The solution only validates falls that can be seen by both cameras in an opposing pair.   Only when both opposing cameras report similar data for an object – including classification as human, trajectory, size, location and speed – does the algorithm authenticate the event as a possible event and provide an alarm.  Objects that appear outside of the zone defined by a set of opposing cameras are ignored by that camera pair.

Fall Detection of ships using cameras

The man-overboard algorithm developed and patented by PureTech Systems allows accurate video detection and eliminates other background movements

By using off-the-shelf advanced thermal imaging cameras combined with PureTech System’s geospatial video analytics, the detection algorithm instantly provides visual imaging of the origin of a fall. When compared to other competitors in the market, the PureTech Systems’ detection rate is much higher, even during harsh weather conditions and irrespective of whether the ship is cruising through cold or warm waters. The algorithm developed and patented by PureTech Systems allows accurate video detection to eliminate other background movements of water, birds, clouds and foreign objects with a situationally-aware user interface.

The system also uses geospatial data, which allows precise location tagging of incidents. Whenever a man-overboard is detected, the system provides audio notifications along with instant looping videos of the event and geolocation as to where the event was triggered. Apart from the audible alarm notification that is heard during such events, the user will also receive visual alarm notifications on video screens with live video, detection images and instant video playback of the alarm.  Immediate notification of a man-overboard event, along with precise location mapping, allows first responders to reach the incident location and act immediately.

With cooperation of key participants in the marine industry, the PureTech solution has been subjected to several tests and trials using objects, dummies and live simulation of man-overboard events in warm and cold waters. This has enabled PureTech to optimize and tune the algorithm, increasing the capability of the system to distinguish between the fall of an inanimate object and that of a living being.


Depending on the type, class, and the perimeter of the ship, the requirements of the hardware can easily be scaled up or down. Because the hardware used is predominantly off the shelf, customers are able to purchase equipment via the most cost saving method.  PureTech Systems provides hardware specifications according to the ship and the area to be monitored and tracked. Customers may then purchase from PureTech Systems, through an installer or direct.

Ship Camera Security Layout for fall safety

The software algorithm currently enables easy integration with many types of ships and is scalable according to the customers’ requirements

The software algorithm currently enables easy integration with other ship command and control systems and is scalable according to the customers’ requirements.  The scalability aspect of the software platform and the customizable options provided by PureTech cater to both the current and future needs of the marine safety industry. The robust algorithm can also be applied for general surveillance, including piracy and anti-boarding.


In cases where ruling bodies and governments issue mandates around safety or security, a natural next step is the establishment of standards which are considered as the guidelines to meet the new requirements.  The marine industry’s response to these requirements around MOB detection is the development of an ISO standard, specifically addressing this mandated detection.  Development of the standards, created by a team of international industry experts representing the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), began in mid-2016 and are expected to be approved and released at the end of 2017.


The use of intelligent video for man-overboard detection offers many advantages and caters to the current requirements of the marine industry.  A video-based solution such as PureTech System’s man-overboard is able to more efficiently detect man-overboard events, ignore normal crew operations and provide the necessary information for first responders to act. The system highly advances the overall safety of a diverse range of marine vessels and will provide the utmost compliance with upcoming ISO standards.



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