Deployments by armed forces around the world to unknown and hostile territories, most notably recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, have seen large numbers of troops placed in challenging environments. UN Peacekeeping forces are currently deployed across the globe, in 16 different areas from Haiti to Pakistan.
Modern armed combat and peacekeeping is significantly different in the post 9-11 era. A serious threat is posed through terrorism including Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and suicide attacks. This makes protecting troops against harm more difficult, particularly in areas where terrain is unknown and any local could be friend or foe.
This provides a logistical challenge: with many armies and peacekeeping forces setting up temporary bases, or on day and night excursions in hostile territory, how can armies and peacekeeping forces best be protected from harm in the field?
One of the most significant issues is securing the perimeter of a base, particularly where this needs to take place quickly for mobile operations or on arrival at a new base camp. Whilst physical barriers are essential to secure the safety of troops, this work is labour and time intensive and is likely only to be used for the area in close proximity to where the troops are stationed. The use of landmines, even defensively, for anti-personnel reasons was banned by The Ottawa Treaty of 1997.
Developments in wireless technology have enabled virtual fences to be used as outer perimeters around a base. Leading British manufacturer of wireless products and services, Wood & Douglas has developed an advanced system that extends perimeters by up to 15km from the base camp by delivering a wide area video link and telemetry control system for HD or SD Digital Video. The telemetry system takes inputs from a range of standard sensor technologies and communicates these over a low power telemetry mesh network. This network is also used to turn on the camera system and to provide pan, tilt and zoom when required.
This system consists of a network of portable wireless linked cameras using DVB-T COFDM (Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) digital video transmission technology. COFDM is similar technology to that used in the DVB-T broadcast TV standard. It delivers a highly robust digital video signal in real time, with a significant reduction in the amount of interference or “ghosting” that can be typical of some video transmissions. This is critical to perimeter surveillance as it ensures that a clear video signal is transmitted.
The wireless perimeter system is based around a master camera controlled by an operator over wireless, connected to a network of sub cameras. With embedded wireless communications, the camera base units can be buried in the ground in a passive ‘sleep mode’ with only the camera and antenna above ground. Power is provided by long life batteries. Because the camera can be triggered by movement, it only uses power when needed, significantly improving battery life.
The cameras can be deployed when a sensor is tripped or manually selected from the control room. The cameras relay video over a combination of short and long range COFDM video links. The camera needs to be covert and requires an extended battery life, reducing maintenance that can reveal the presence of the equipment to hostiles. When there is no line of sight connectivity to the control centre, a repeater station can be deployed to ‘hop’ transmissions and ensure connectivity.
The control room can be safely located within the base, enabling the operator to command remote cameras with full control via a wireless link for pan, tilt and zoom to any selected camera meaning once tripped, live camera feeds can identify people within the outer perimeter and take suitable action. The portability of the system also means it can be deployed to support troops that are on manoeuvres outside of base camp, enabling them to quickly set up a virtual safety net around a group for additional protection.
- Fast to deploy, covert extended perimeter using wireless technology
- Delivers SD or HD quality video with control of cameras from operations centre
- Highly portable and deployable in any terrain
- Range of sensor interfaces
- GPS positioning for all telemetry and video units.
- “Self healing” mesh network for simplified installation and reduced mainteance