‘Climbing Camera’ delivers improved surveillance for counter terror forces
Of all the technologies delivering support for counter terror operations, live video in one form or another must rate as one of the most important and useful. The innovative Sherpa ‘climbing camera’ Surveillance System, enables wireless video and other communications devices to be installed speedily at height around any incident, providing enhanced command information system support for counter terror forces.
Everyone knows that video at height gives commanders a major advantage when monitoring any kind of emergency operation. With Sherpa, a network of PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) video surveillance cameras and other wireless communications infrastructure (TETRA, GSM, WiFi and 3G), can be rapidly deployed and relay real time information back to command vehicles and portable viewing and control devices. Imagery can then be combined with other incident information to create and share a secure Common Operational Picture – using Excelerate’s satellite solution – between any authorised location.
The Sherpa Surveillance System is a new addition to the range of command information system support technologies for military, security and emergency commanders. As C4I systems evolve to include a growing number of live data technologies designed to improve situational awareness and provide a Common Operational Picture, live video (supplied through COFDM, MESH and satellite broadband technologies), is becoming much more commonly used.
The Sherpa system is made up of two key elements – 1. The Delivery Unit, which is a self powered system that climbs to the required height and securely and automatically clamps 2. The Operating Platform Unit to a pole or lamppost. Once the Operating Platform Unit has been clamped to the pole (the entire process of attaching to the pole and positioning takes about five minutes), the Delivery Unit can then be quickly brought back down the pole and used to position additional Operating Platforms Units on different poles, thereby enabling commanders to establish a real time video or other communications infrastructure network in a very short period of time.
The Operating Platform Unit can carry robust wireless PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) cameras or other communications technologies such as aerials for TETRA or GSM, Wi-Fi access points and 3G routers. One of the system’s strengths is its flexibility to carry a growing array of devices. A long duration (up to 48 hours) battery power supply is included in each Operating Platform unit. The delivery unit is controlled by a wired handheld device.
Integrated with COFDM transmission technology or other wireless systems, remote viewing of video from the Sherpa system can be done via the third element, the Control and Viewing Unit, which can be operated from mobile command vehicles, laptops, peli-cases and control rooms.
Quality and timeliness
By delivering video camera footage from cameras placed at height for improved coverage and access (with coverage achieved in a very rapid period of time), along with other imagery from rapid deployable, body-worn and vehicle-mounted cameras and ‘heli-tele’ downlinks, commanders are able to see substantial improvements in the quality and timeliness of the information on which they base their decisions, especially in areas where no existing video or CCTV coverage is available. Given all these features, the system has been described as the world’s first rapidly deployable, high-level wireless camera network and communications system. The system has a wide variety of police, homeland security, military, para-military, counter terror and joint civil/military emergency management applications, including prison surveillance.
The Sherpa system is already in use throughout the UK, North America, Canada, Australia and South Africa.