Tactical infrastructure such as fencing, roads, and lighting is important to securing a nation’s border. But it alone is not enough to stop the unlawful movement of individuals and contraband in to a country.

“Technology will be the primary driver of all the land, maritime, and air domain awareness – this can become only more apparent as [U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)] faces future threats,” in accordance with testimony from CBP officials with a Senate hearing on homeland security in 2015.

And machine vision’s fingerprints are over that technology. “The data extracted from fixed and mobile surveillance systems, ground sensors, imaging systems, along with other advanced technologies enhances situational awareness and better enables CBP to detect, identify, monitor, and appropriately reply to threats within the nation’s border regions,” the testimony states.

In the U.S.-Mexico border inside the state of Arizona, for example, Top Machine Vision Inspection System Manufacturer persistently detect and track so-called “pieces of interest.” Built to withstand its harsh desert surroundings, IFT is equipped with radar, commercial off-the-shelf daylight cameras and thermal imaging sensors, and microwave transmitters that send data to border agents on the Nogales station for analysis and decision-making.

On all 3 fronts of land, maritime, and aerial surveillance, machine vision companies are providing imaging systems – and, more regularly, analysis of the generated data – that meet government agencies’ objectives of flexibility, cost effectiveness, as well as simple deployment in border security applications.

Managing Diverse Conditions – The perennial downside to vision systems found in border surveillance applications is handling the diversity of your outdoor environment featuring its fluctuating lighting and climatic conditions, as well as varied terrain. Despite the challenges, “you can find places in which you can implement controls to improve upon the intelligence of the system,” says Dr. Rex Lee, president and CEO of Pyramid Imaging (Tampa, Florida). He points to customers who monitor trains across the southern border of the U.S. for illegal passengers.

“Those trains need to go under a trellis, which can be built with the proper sensors and lighting to assist inspect the trains,” Dr. Lee says. Government agencies tasked with border security use infrared cameras to detect targets at night and in other low-light conditions, but thermal imaging has its limits, too. “Infrared cameras work really well once you can use them in high-contrast conditions,” Dr. Lee says. “But if you’re attempting to pick up a human at 98.6°F on a desert floor that is 100°F, the desert is emitting radiation at nearly the identical portion of the spectrum. So customers count on other areas in the spectrum including shortwave infrared (SWIR) to attempt to catch the main difference.”

Infrared imaging works well in monitoring motorized watercraft considering that the boat’s engine has a thermal signature. “What’s nice about water is that it’s relatively uniform and it’s easy to ‘wash out’ that background and see anomalies,” Dr. Lee says.

But however , the oceans present a vast level of area to protect. Says Dr. Lee, “To view all of it is a compromise between having a whole bunch of systems monitoring water or systems that are loaded with the sky, where case you have the problem of seeing something really tiny in a huge overall view.”

CMOS Surpasses CCD – One key change in imaging systems utilized in border surveillance applications is definitely the shift from CCD to CMOS sensors as the latter is surpassing the standard and satisfaction in the former. To support this change, two years ago Adimec Advanced Image Systems bv (Eindhoven, holland) integrated the latest generation of CMOS image sensors – that provide significant improvements in image quality and sensitivity – into its TMX series of rugged commercial off-the-shelf cameras for high-end security applications. TMX cameras have a maximum frame rate of 60 fps or 30 fps for RGB color images at full HD resolution.

Furthermore, CMOS image sensors are emerging as a replacement for electron-multiplying CCDs (EMCCDs), says Leon van Rooijen, Business Line Director Global Security at Adimec. Thanks to their superior performance over CCDs in low-light conditions, EMCCDs often are deployed in applications like harbor or coastal surveillance.

But EMCCDs have distinct disadvantages. For example, an EMCCD has to be cooled in order to deliver the best performance. “Which is quite some challenge in the feeling of integrating power consumption and in addition the fact that you must provide high voltage to the sensors,” van Rooijen says. “And if you want to have systems operating for any long duration without maintenance, an EMCCD is not the best solution.”

To fix these challenges, Adimec is concentrating on image processing “to get the most from the most recent generation CMOS ahead closer to the performance global security customers are utilized to with EMCCD without all of the downsides of the cost, integration, and reliability,” van Rooijen says.

Adimec also is tackling the process of mitigating the turbulence that develops with border surveillance systems over very long ranges, particularly as systems that were using analog video are now taking steps toward higher resolution imaging to pay for the bigger areas.

“When imaging at long range, you may have atmospheric turbulence through the heat rising from your ground, and also on sea level, rising or evaporated water creates problems regarding the haze,” van Rooijen says. “We shall show turbulence mitigation within the low-latency hardware embedded in our platform and definately will work with system integrators to optimize it for land and sea applications simply because they possess the biggest issues with turbulence.”

Greater Than Pictures – Like machine vision systems deployed in industrial applications, border home security systems generate a lot of data that will require analysis. “The surveillance industry traditionally has been a little slower to include analytics,” says Dr. Lee of Pyramid Imaging. “We see significant opportunity there and have been dealing with a lot of our customers to ensure that analytics are definitely more automated in terms of what is being detected and to analyze that intrusion, and after that have the ability to require a proper response.”

Some companies have developed software that identifies anomalies in persistent monitoring. As an example, if a passenger in the airport suddenly abandons a suitcase, the software will detect that this object is unattended nefqnm anything else around it continues to move.

Even with robust vision-based surveillance capabilities at all points of entry, U.S. border patrol and homeland security need to contend with a lot bigger threat. “The United States does a pretty good job checking people to arrive, but we do a really poor job knowing when they ever leave,” Dr. Lee says. “We know how to solve that problem using technology, but that can cause their own problems.

“The best place to get this done are at the Automated Vision Inspection Machines within the TSA line, in which you can use a mechanism to record everybody,” Dr. Lee continues. “But that will be expensive because you need to do this at each airport in america. Monitoring and recording slows things down, and TSA is under lots of pressure to speed things up.” Another surveillance option that government agencies have discussed takes noncontact fingerprints at TSA each and every time someone flies. “A lot of the American public won’t tolerate that,” Dr. Lee says. “They are likely to argue that fingerprinting is simply too much government oversight, and will result in a large amount of pressure and pushback.”

Automated Vision Inspection Machines – What To Look For..

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