Smart City Sensor-Q project for Townsville self-monitors urban water quality and usage with advanced analytics and a cloud-hosted infrastructure
Milestone Systems open platform video management software (VMS) is contributing to Smart City video applications internationally. Milestone Solution Partner EnviroCOMS has created advanced digital weather models, smart data analytics and reporting, and a system for storing and managing manual and real-time environmental data. They have developed an advanced environmental digital asset management system that can communicate with a VMS through a cloud-hosted infrastructure for a large-scale system that works globally monitoring video while processing environmental data and analytics.
Early IP Adoption Leads EnviroCOMS to Milestone and Amazon Cloud
Chris Lane, co-founder of EnviroCOMS’ head company CoastalCOMS, says they were doing IP streaming before IP cameras existed, incorporating the Milestone open platform into its monitoring system due to its flexibility and robust levels of support. “We have long believed that IP was the way of the future. So it was logical that we would gravitate to the software platform leading the IP video revolution which is Milestone. It supports so many different cameras and we can really dig into the software to tailor it to our specifications.”
Lane and his team have used Milestone XProtect software in their solutions since 2009. The system primarily monitored wave heights, measured shoreline erosion and calculated beach population density. This has been done internationally in partnership with various coastguards and city councils to improve beach safety and analyze risk prevention tactics. EnviroCOMS’ customers include CoastalWATCH, Surf Life Saving, port authorities and governmental departments, and other specialized consultancy groups.
“We use the Milestone software rules engine to drive cameras based on time profiles,” says EnviroCOMS senior application developer Nigel Sim. “We glean recordings for those profiles where our video extraction and processing (VEAP) system digs through the workflow and processes the results.”
EnviroCOMS has been using Amazon cloud-hosted infrastructure since 2007 which allows Lane and Sim to run cameras on beaches across California, Hawaii and Australia and quickly push video to a command center without needing individuals on each beach manning the equipment. “Choosing the right cloud infrastructure was an important piece of this puzzle,” Sim says. “And we love how well Amazon and Milestone work together. We’ve never had any issues when it comes to storage.”
New Smart City Application, School Projects and Business Intelligence
EnviroCOMS has now built a self-monitoring data asset management system robust enough to handle all types of environmental monitoring. They recently created a smart water application for the Australian city of Townsville as part of the government’s Sensor-Q project. This unites James Cook University and CoastalCOMS in a practical applied science and research project supported by a grant from the Queensland Government Accelerate Program.
As part of the Sensor-Q project the city council in Townsville is also leveraging Milestone VMS to create a smarter, more sustainable city. EnviroCOMS is using Milestone video technology to develop a low-cost system that monitors urban water usage and measures water quality from creeks and streams.
“We’re looking at a really powerful solution here,” says Lane. “Our custom environmental data management system leverages Milestone for a solution that measures water level on spillways and records video of certain positions of a dam. It stores video archives and processes environmental data and advanced environmental analytics. It’s more than just security. It’s a business intelligence application.”
EnviroCOMS is currently partnering with dozens of environmental projects around the globe, including one on the Gold Coast Seaway. Still images are taken from three set positions in the seaway every 30 minutes from the EnviroCOMS camera, processed in the Milestone platform and exported to researchers. The idea for this project began in August 2015 when a dirty water plume was discovered in the Seaway. In December, James Cook University deployed a water quality buoy with sensor equipment to take measurements of temperature and turbidity in the area.
EnviroCOMS is also partnering with the All Saints Anglican School on the Gold Coast in Queensland to monitor its wetlands. A camera and weather station have been installed to collect images and live data feeds of wind speed, wind direction and rainfall. This data assists school projects on environmental monitoring. Measurements of temperature and turbidity are recorded in the wetlands and relayed back through Milestone, with time-lapse video of changes to the wetland before and after a flooding event, for example.
“Milestone has become a critical tool for us,” Lane says. “We’re leveraging its video capabilities to monitor major environmental changes, which will help us make more informed decisions about how we take care of our precious natural resources moving forward.”
Looking to the Future
Lane said that the next step is to build a data management toolset that allows customers like Townsville city council to manage their own projects. The EnviroCOMS solution includes high quality visualization and reporting tools and it is currently working on leveraging Milestone to create a data management asset system that can handle video and images in addition to large data streams. EnviroCOMS originally designed an internal solution, but is now working to create a system that each of their customers can tailor to their specifications.
“We want to put the power of our solution in the hands of the people who are using it,” says Sim. “That means pulling in third-party data streams like weather providers and tide gauges. Milestone gives us the ability to see video and images in real time. When we combine that with powerful data and analytics processing, we get truly unique and innovative solutions.”