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Securing the Port of Halifax

Since 9/11, ports and harbours have come under increasing pressure to upgrade and improve their security and the Port of Halifax is no exception.

May 8, 2007  By Andrew Wareing

On May 1, Phoenix, Ariz.-based PureTech Systems Inc. announced that its PureActiv video surveillance software was chosen for the Halifax Port Authority Command and Control System (HPACCS) designed by U.K.-based Ultra Electronics.

According to Ultra, the $8 million system will display radar tracks on electronic charts, annotate them with data transmitted by the vessel’s Automatic Information System (AIS) transponder and automatically cue cameras onto targets of interest using intelligent object recognition, tracking and scene analysis. The system incorporates access control, perimeter fence monitoring, chemical detection and an incident management system.

The system is part of an overall $20 million project to improve security at the port including physical perimeter improvements, credentialing of people who are to have access to the port and improvements to its command and control system which includes the PureTech component.

Funding for the Port security project is being provided on a 75/25 split between Transport Canada and the Halifax Port Authority under the Marine Security Contribution program.


“The standard requirement was to have the system monitored by one person,” says Halifax Port Authority marine security and cruise operations manager Gord Helm, adding that the PureTech system is an improvement from the classic system of having one person monitoring 50 cameras “which, for most people, lasts about 20 or 30 minutes with any effectiveness.”

Now, the operator will have a large virtual map of the harbour which the system will cue to the operator in the event of a situation that demands their attention, either in summoning security personnel to investigate, summoning the Port detachment of the Halifax Regional Police or calling for emergency response such as the fire department.

“You have to look at the PureTech control as a component of a fused command and control system/regime. It is a critical component in that it provides an overlay of algorithms that have virtual keys and rules enabling us to establish virtual barriers around sensitive areas on land and in the water,” Helm says.  “This is taking it to a new level and doing something that has not been done in the past. Right now, you have a number of cameras monitored but not a cued monitoring process. You have to call up a camera, and slew it to where you want it to go. This is a significant departure from what we’ve been doing.”

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