Exposed to the Elements – Trespass Identification and Deterrent System (TIDS) is Put to the Test

Back in November last year we announced our participation in an SBRi funding call from Network Rail to produce a system aimed at reducing trespass across the UK rail network. Since then, alongside the continued development of the software element behind the system, we have been busy working on our preparation for the upcoming onsite testing period.

Alterations to Hardware Set Up

In our original outline the plan was to install a pole to which the different pieces of hardware could be attached. Following surveys of the two sites the plan was altered so that the detection equipment would instead be fitted to one of the gantry’s already in place.

Where the original pole installation accounted for the protection of equipment from potential weather and public damage, this was not the case with new gantry plan. There was also a need to minimise the number of separate “installations” to obtain permission for live site testing.

As a solution to the new problem, one of our engineers produced designs for an enclosure that would hold all of the detection equipment, including the camera and speaker. Not only would this provide the necessary level of protection, but would also reduce the number of installations to one.

SOAK Testing

Currently, we are undertaking something a bit new to us here at Zircon, with access to the finished casing we have started the process of SOAK testing the final system set up. Up to this point the system has been only been run and tested within the comfort of an office environment, however before it goes into the more volatile environment of an active station we need to have confidence in its ability to run constantly for the duration of the live testing phase regardless of the conditions. This means detecting incidents and running the deterrent regardless of light level and varying weather conditions.

You may have also noticed from the CAD drawings that there are gaps in the casing to permit air to flow around the casing to allow for ventilation and to prevent overheating in the CPUs. The obvious downside to this layout is that it does present an opportunity for moisture to enter or build up within the casing. As a means to prevent water damage each component that makes up the system is IP66 rated and we have ensured that any water that does build up within the casing can drain out of the base. Ensuring that these measures are effective will be another element during this stage of testing.

As you can probably tell we may not have a fancy lab or test site in which to conduct this process, however, this has not got in the way of progress. In the last couple of weeks, the British weather has stayed true to its reputation and thrown pretty much all it can at us, swinging from beautiful sunshine and heat to heavy rain and humidity. We are pretty pleased to say that, so far under the watchful eye of one of our engineers and their family, there has been no break in the system’s ability to detect intrusions into the defined incursion areas.

As stated previously, this step in the preparation process also provides a means for us to ensure that low light levels will have no impact on the accuracy of detection and sounding of the deterrent system. In order to allow for detection without a light source, the system has infrared capabilities and we need to establish how this change in image quality could impact detection. So far we have discovered that the system seems to be much more sensitive once the change to infrared occurs. With this in mind, we are working on finding the correct level of balance between accurate detection in the two extreme levels of light.

Unexpected Test Helps to Prove The Detection Capability

When you test in a controlled environment like an office it is all to easy to subconciously make sure the system is set up in a way that allows for the best results or, when working with video analytics, to behave in a specific manner that you know the system will be able to pick up on. This is a big part of why we are taking as many steps as we can in the testing of TIDS, to be sure that it will be a system that can be trusted. So it is always nice when you get to have a third party come in to run a test of their own. One of the engineers on the TIDS project was in for quite a suprise one weekend, when he recieved a notification of unauthorised incursion from the unit still located at our office in Trowbridge. Luckily it was not a burglar breaking in, but one of the cleaners happily going about his duties.

The Next Steps

Realistically the next big step forward for the TIDS solution will be it’s installation on an active platform. Currently our aim is to obtain all of the permissions to allow for placement by the end of July with the system set to run for several months. This testing phase should help us establish the effectiveness of the deterrent and give us guidance on how to further improve the system.

Interested in following the progress of the TIDS solution? Keep an eye on the Zircon blog for the next big update.