|In 2006 a group of would-be thieves broke into Steveston Harbour in Richmond, B.C. Entering a trailer, they unexpectedly encountered a boat owner. Instead of being intimidated by the boat owner’s presence, the group suggested he get out of their way and let them take what they wanted.|
Immediately after learning of the break-in, Steveston Harbour Authority’s Operations team, which runs the largest small-craft commercial fishing harbour in Canada, decided to upgrade the facility’s aging security camera network to a state-of-the-art system capable of detecting any nearby anomalies and capturing high-resolution footage of any incidents. After looking at solutions from several vendors, Steveston chose a solution based on Sony of Canada’s Distributed & Enhanced Processing Architecture (DEPA) platform. DEPA technology features intelligent video analytic capabilities built into IP-based network cameras, as well as camera-based image processing that filters out environmental noise such as rustling tree leaves.
“We loved the quality of the Sony cameras,” says Joel Baziuk, Operations Supervisor for the Steveston Harbour Authority. “It really set them apart from other vendors in the market.”
Steveston uses between 15 and 20 cameras to cover its two sites, comprising 25 acres of water lot and 45 acres of upland, and typically housing around 650 boats. Between 90 and 95 per cent of those boats are small, commercial fishing vessels. The remainder are pleasure craft.
Steveston Harbour’s cameras include fifteen pan, tilt, zoom models – one Sony IPELA SNC-RZ25 network camera, one Sony SNC-RZ50 network camera, and thirteen Sony IPELA SNC-RX550 network cameras. Most of the cameras are running at 640 x 480 JPEG, recording at 30 frames-per-second, giving Steveston excellent video quality. Steveston uses three terabytes of storage to save its video and can archive weeks of footage.
Eight of the Sony cameras are located more than three kilometres from the harbour and are connected wirelessly back to Steveston Harbour’s security station through eight Firetide wireless mesh nodes. The wireless nodes allow the harbour authority to extend its security perimeter out to areas it initially thought it wouldn’t be able to reach.
Steveston is a private, non-profit organization and doesn’t have a lot of budget to spend on extra security staff, so having cameras that allow the existing staff to do more is important, Baziuk says.
“We have some motion detectors hooked up to the cameras, so we can point them in specific directions – to cover an entrance for example – and the camera can send the staff an alarm if it detects suspicious activity in a certain area, or it can record that activity,” he explains. “The system isn’t fully automated, but it gives us a lot more flexibility than we had before.”
One Sony feature that has impressed Baziuk is the algorithms that train the cameras to ignore background motion, such as moving leaves, rain or water.
“Being a harbour, water motion is obviously a big issue for us, but the cameras are great at ignoring the waves,” he says.
Since moving to an IP security camera system, Steveston’s staff have dramatically improved their surveillance capabilities.
For example, Baziuk says, the old system had comparatively poor playback capabilities with low frames-per-second and bad picture quality.
“Often a fisherman would come and tell us something had happened to their boat,” he notes. “But then they’d say they hadn’t been at their boat for three weeks. We didn’t have the time to go back through three weeks of tapes to see if we could spot any suspicious activities.”
Now, Baziuk says, staff are able to pinpoint what incidents occurred and pull up high-quality footage. The Harbour Authority also shares footage with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the RCMP who occasionally seek Steveston’s assistance in investigations.
“The move to IP has really streamlined our ability to check for events,” he explains. “Now that we have intelligent cameras that record what we want them to record, we can be a lot more efficient.”