NICTA gets $1.01m for advanced video surveillance system at Port of Brisbane

R&D body developing advanced system to help ports monitor activities in their locations

A screen shot of the NICTA video surveillance system

A screen shot of the NICTA video surveillance system

ICT research and development organisation, NICTA, has picked up $1.01 million in Federal Government funding for the development of an advanced video surveillance system for the Port of Brisbane.

The money has been awarded under the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's Research and Support for National Security Program and will go towards supporting three researchers over several years.

NICTA’s advanced surveillance project leader Brian Lovell told Computerworld the project was looking at combining a range of technologies to provide a "scalable situational awareness system".

"You could imagine a single desktop interface that gives you all the information you need at a port, like the Port of Brisbane," he said. "The reason to go single desktop is that is the modern trend. It also means you can provide that information to emergency responders so if there is an incident at the Port of Brisbane you can provide not just the video feed but all the context information to emergency providers like the police, etc.

"What we do is have all the video feeds, which are placed [superimposed] on a 3D texture map surface – sort of like a game of Doom or a video game environment. The beauty of that is you don't need to know the camera numbers or where they are positioned because it is implicit in the display. So if you go, for example, to the oil bunkering facility on the map you just scroll along with your mouse and then zoom in and if there is any video camera present you can see, live, what is happening at that spot. It is a little like Google Street View except when you go in you are seeing a live camera feed."

The Port of Brisbane is 110km long and will host around 40 to 60 cameras. The movement of boats will be visible in the system along with the cargo they are carrying and tidal/wind information.

The whole system is being designed with a number of different programming languages – including C++, Python and SQL – and will operate on a distributed network.

"We are also looking at advanced surveillance cameras that have 16 megapixel frame size. Standard definition is 0.3 megapixels per frame, high definition is 2 megapixels per frame – so this is 8 times the definition," Lovell said. "One of the benefits is you can PTZ [Pan, Tilt, Zoom] or effectively move your camera after you have recorded. The advantage of these cameras [the higher definition variety] is you can have a wide angle view, but after the event zoom in and recognise peoples faces and number plates and so on."

NICTA is also aiming to commercialise the system in future and is in discussions with overseas ports already.

"We are trying to have a generic project that not only solves the problem for Brisbane but also for other ports," Lovell said.

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