Canadian Security Magazine

HD IP video surveillance systems rolled out for border crossings

Neil Sutton   

News Public Sector

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) recently completed an installation of IP video surveillance equipment at 30 of its land border crossings across the nation.

The project spanned more than 18 months, 10 different RFPs and three
integrators —Chubb Canada, ADT Advanced Integration and Southwest
Surveillance Systems Canada

The CBSA chose IndigoVision’s IP video system as its technology
platform. Five hundred IndigoVision HD cameras were installed and
integrated with the CBSA’s existing 500 analogue cameras, which were
connected to the network using IndigoVision’s 9000 series transmitter
modules. IndigoVision is calling the project the largest HD IP
surveillance system of its kind in North America.

“I think there probably will be a migration path to 100 per cent IP.
However, an awful lot of the cameras they purchased over the years are
very, very good analogue cameras,” said Bill McQuade, senior
vice-president, North America, IndigoVision. “It certainly wouldn’t
make sense to throw them in the rubbish bin. Fifty per cent of the
cameras are IP and the other 50 per cent are existing cameras that they
purchased several years ago.”

Spokesperson for the CBSA Hannah Mahoney said in an email that “the
newer technology allows us to have enhanced coverage of our areas. The
CBSA places a high priority in its enforcement efforts, using proven
indicators, advance information, innovative technology, information
sharing and officer training to protect our borders. At the same time,
the agency always looks at new ways to enhance its detection


Each border crossing has a self-contained surveillance system with
video being recorded on standalone NVRs and monitored on workstations
with IndigoVision Control Center security management software.
According to IndigoVision, border points will be able to share live and
recorded video on a regional or national basis via a distributed
architecture should they require it.

Terry Hoffman, principal of Hoffman & Co., was retained at the CBSA
as a consultant to oversee the process from start to finish. Before a
single contract could be tendered, Hoffman conducted workshops, defined
user expectations and mapped out project criteria based on those
expectations. The first tender went out in 2007, the last in December
2008, and the project was completed in March 2009.

Hoffman said that the influx of HD cameras gives the CBSA access to
higher quality images that can be used for evidentiary purposes, faster
response times on database searches, and easier transmission of images
due to improved compression techniques.

There was very little downtime, added Hoffman, despite the complexity
of the project. “The migration of existing video to new was planned
for. There were specific times of the week and hours of the day that
that was conducted on. Migration was part of the project management
portion ”“ migration of old technology to new.”

In fact, the biggest obstacle the integrators had to contend with was the weather.

“The Canadian environment offered some challenges at the installation
phase,” said Hoffman. “Installers had to deal with extreme snow in
Eastern Canada and extreme winds and cold temperatures throughout the
Prairies. The weather added a challenge for the installing companies
because of the performance integrity of the cable that had to be

“Because it was so cold, we had cameras perfect during the day and then
maybe at night time, sometimes the focus was a little soft,” added
McQuade. “The integrators had to go back and refocus these cameras
using neutral density type filters, so when you’re focusing the
cameras, you’re doing it when the lens is wide open. In April, May,
June, July, it’s a piece of cake but (it’s different) in the middle of
January and you’re up a pole at it’s -35 °C.”

An essential component of the project was ensuring that all the
technology installed is fully backward and forward compatible in order
to keep pace with technological change. Technology foresight is very
important, says Hoffman, particularly when you’re dealing with an
install that spans several years.

“We naturally looked at feature sets of all the manufacturers, studying
each manufacturer for features, what relationships they had. ONVIF was
not a vision at that point,” said Hoffman, referring to the Open
Network Video Interface Forum, founded by Axis, Sony and Bosch in 2008.
Since then, more than 100 companies have joined ONVIF, including

“Things change in 18 months. But what you researched and the decisions
that you made at the beginning — all you can do is try to manage them
throughout the project.”

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