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Improved parking security for Finnish truckers

Sony Professional Europe : 19 March, 2015  (Application Story)
An overnight rest area on a major route through Finland is protecting its community of truck drivers with the use of Sony surveillance equipment
Improved parking security for Finnish truckers

Pihtipudas is a municipality with 5000 residents, located in Central Finland. It is an important rest stop for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), because the driver's resting periods are strictly monitored with a digital tachograph. Most of the trucks on Finnish national road 4 stop or stay overnight in Pihtipudas, whilst some of the drivers living in the area also use the rest area to store their vehicles.            

Pihtipudas is located in the central region of Finland, which makes it ideal in terms of driving times, and the village offers a wide range of services for the drivers. The preparations for the project started with listening to the drivers' requirements.  Following consultation, the municipality decided that due to the considerable amount of space needed to accommodate vehicles of this size that they would need to construct a dedicated guarded parking area.

A suitable location for the parking area was found along Finnish national road 4. The property is located next to a restaurant, a vehicle inspection station and an automobile repair shop whilst a new hotel will be built on the plot opposite the site. The area, designed to accommodate ten full-trailer vehicles, is illuminated and equipped with electrical outlets for trucks.

These valuable vehicles must be under surveillance for the duration of their stay. The cost of surrounding the whole area with a fence was too high and using a sliding entrance gate equipped with a lock was considered too difficult. Maintaining the gate would be difficult, especially in snowy winters. Video security was the most realistic and suitable option in this environment.

Once the decision to use a video surveillance system to monitor the parking area was decided, the next challenges were the specification requirements.

The size of the area meant that the resolution of the cameras needed to be high enough to capture clearly the license plates of those using the facility both day and night in all weather conditions, low-light sensitivity and colour reproduction were also very important determining criteria.

The tender was won by an experienced system integrator called Lempäälän Turvapalvelu Oy, led by Juha Eskola. The client had thoroughly researched different camera models and also studied the experiences of seasoned truck drivers around Finland. As a result, a consensus on the foundations of the project was reached right away.

The chosen Sony camera model was SNC-VB632D. In total, six cameras were fitted on four light poles along the sides of the parking area, including two of the poles fitted with two cameras each. The weather-proof cameras have both infrared and white LED lights around the lens, which the camera activates as required. For example, the camera’s on-board infrared (IR) illuminator can capture clear black and white images with an effective range of 30 metres. When there’s movement within its field of view, the camera’s integrated white LED illuminator is on and switches automatically to colour video mode, capturing detail-packed Full HD images at up to a smooth 60fps frame-rate in colour to assure positive identification of the subject.

The chosen camera has intelligent motion detection and video analytics functions, which can be programmed to sound a warning announcement to traffic or if vehicles are positioned incorrectly, for instance.

The company Lempäälän Turvapalvelu is located over 300 kilometres away from Pihtipudas. Unnecessary travelling and idle time therefore had to be eliminated. The company first assembled the system within its own premises and tested the operation of all the components. The equipment was then disassembled and installed at the final assembly location in just a couple of hours. Thanks to the careful preparations, the system worked perfectly straight away. SNC-VB632D’s unique mounting arm design also helped installation. Its three-axis adjustment feature meant that viewing angles can be set quickly and easily without requiring an additional bracket.  

In addition to the cameras, an IP router was needed for the parking area. A fibre optic cable was connected between the router and the equipment that is being used for recording and surveillance, located in the Pihtipudas municipal hall.

The surveillance system in the Pihtipudas rest area was put into operation in December, during the darkest time of the year. During the first few months, the weather varied a lot, from extremely cold temperatures (-20C) to sleeting rain. The new system was put to a rigorous test right away — and passed the test flawlessly.

The customer wanted to use the best cameras in the market for the challenging location. Based on the technical specifications and the drivers' experiences, Sony cameras were considered superior in terms of accuracy and reliability. The chosen camera model is known for an exceptionally wide dynamic range, natural colour reproduction, even in dim lighting, and very low noise.

The intelligent functions integrated in Sony cameras allowed for an extremely simple and reliable system, which transmits new data to the recording device when abnormal activities are detected only. The hard drive space is therefore sufficient to store events for up to six months at a time. The system only partially uses the bandwidth of the fibre optic cable, meaning the number of cameras can be increased in the future.

The three-year-advance replacement support package included by Sony was also very much appreciated.

"I am very impressed with the resolution of the Sony cameras, as it is high enough to inspect the registration plates of vehicles. I am also pleased with the astonishingly natural colour reproduction of the cameras. The cameras are like computers — for instance, they can be updated remotely by the company that installed them. This is an extremely important feature for us in the long run," says Ari Kahilainen, the Project Manager from the Pihtipudas municipality.

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