Cruise Ships Go Full Steam Ahead with Video Surveillance

View/download original article published on a&s Magazine here.

The cruise industry has been receiving a lot of media attention regarding security onboard its vessels. From people falling overboard to physical and sexual assaults to vandalism and theft, cruise ships are subject to a wide range of different security and safety threats. When it comes to video surveillance, all of the aforementioned have a direct and positive impact on its demand.

As the core of any good security system, the importance of a robust video surveillance solution is imperative, and an IP video surveillance is particularly well suited to the needs of cruise ships, explained Anthony Incorvati, Business Development Manager of Critical Infrastructure and Transportation at Axis Communications. “For a cruise ship, we are talking about the perfect storm when it comes to so many different subcategories of users and environments. In one location we have casinos, restaurants, hotels, day and night operations, diverse climate and lighting conditions, diverse areas from many nooks and crannies (both passenger and operations areas — power plant, kitchens, etc.) to larger open deck spaces,” he said. Such a surveillance system is able to support this variety of users and uses in a ship environment.

Less Cameras, More Coverage 
Cruise ship operators, like most security operators, are constantly looking to reduce security and surveillance costs while at the same time improving coverage, image quality and situational awareness. One way of doing this is by reducing the number of cameras used by replacing them with cameras that can cover more ground or see further.

Jeff Whitney, VP of Global Marketing at Arecont Vision explained how the use of multi-sensor panoramic or omnidirectional megapixel cameras are often ideal for 360-degree coverage with a single device. These types of cameras could also cut project costs of cameras, cabling and software licenses. “At the same time, a multi-sensor panoramic eliminates the need for maintenance of heavy PTZ cameras, since the viewing area is constantly being monitored without the requirement for gears and motors that can wear and fail with repeated use,” he added.

The need for better coverage has also resulted in many cruise ships equipping themselves with megapixel cameras. “Megapixel cameras provide better image quality and a host of other features and capabilities,” Whitney continued. “Multi-sensor megapixel cameras further reduce the number of individual cameras required while providing superior situational awareness.”

Jumbi Edulbehram, Regional President for Americas at Oncam, recommended 360-degree panoramic cameras as an ideal choice for cruise vessel surveillance. “Quite simply, cruise lines require complete video coverage, and the best way to accomplish this is with the investment in 360-degree panoramic cameras,” he said. “These cameras deliver new levels of situational awareness and aid in investigations. Such systems are also helpful in responding to smaller incidents that occur frequently on a cruise vessel, such as finding lost or stolen property or tracking a lost child.”

Overcoming Surveillance Challenges at Sea
By design, cruise ships are intended to be well populated — a full ship results in maximum revenue for the cruise lines. Ships themselves have also become the destination for a large majority of a cruise. This means the passenger population remains onboard for a greater percentage of the trip. “From a surveillance aspect, these two circumstances result in the monitoring of locations that are heavily populated for longer periods of time. This high traffic also results in the potential for occlusions within the camera views,” explained Eric Olson, VP of Marketing at PureTech Systems.

Such dense populations increase the need for the number of cameras, or the use of wide-angle lenses or 360-degree sensors. This allows operators to more fully monitor a location and provide alternate video feeds in the event of occlusions. “Similarly, the use of video intelligence becomes more important in these crowded spaces, calling for more advanced algorithms to help aid ship security officers in monitoring for security events and safety issues,” Olson said.

Environmental factors such as sea spray and lighting are also challenges for video surveillance aboard cruise vessels. Due to the constant presence of moisture and corrosive sea water, Whitney pointed out the need for outdoor IP66-rated and IK-10 impact-resistance cameras. “Points of entry to the camera should be limited and protected by proper mounting, cabling drip loops and rubber gaskets to reduce the chance of water ingress,” he said.

Continuous changes in back lighting and low light conditions are also cause for concern, and require surveillance cameras that have the technology to handle such variations. “True day/night and low light color technology in the best cameras can dramatically improve image quality in low light areas as low as 0.02 lux without the need for secondary illumination,” Whitney added. “Wide dynamic range-equipped cameras are able to address a wide range of varied lighting conditions, from bright daylight to darker interior spaces.”