UK sensor system keeps eye on Dutch canals

A project to control shipping on Holland’s canals using advanced video networking technology could herald new types of traffic-management systems, according to its UK developer.

The Dutch government is rolling out a combination of video, sensor and high-speed data-transmission systems to create a real-time surveillance and control network for the country’s 2,200 miles of waterways.

Motion Media Technology – which supplied the transmission units used in pilot schemes on six stretches of water – claimed the system has the potential to be used in other areas of traffic management where it is impossible, or uneconomic, to have trained staff at each location.

The Bristol-based company will now extend the system to 40 more locations following a positive response from the Dutch authorities (if not their lock-keepers, up to five of whom are being replaced by video at each site).

The waterways-management system uses sensors to detect when a vessel is approaching a lock or a bridge that needs to be opened or raised. The sensor triggers the video system, which compresses images and sends them to a central control centre via a high-speed ISDN data link.

When the data is decompressed at the other end, controllers can see up to eight high-resolution images of the scene, allowing them to deal with the situation safely by remote control.

Motion Media originally developed the sensor-response technology for use in the security market. But following the Dutch pilot scheme the company believes it could have other applications in monitoring sites such as railway level crossings.

‘The alternative is to have a lot of people waiting around for something to happen, which is pretty futile,’ said Peter Brooke-Wavell, Motion Media’s head of market development.’By using this technology you can respond to an alert from a sensor and view things while they are actually happening.’