Surveying the Crowd: The GroundEye pod, affixed to a lighthouse about 2 kilometers distant, zooms in on a crowd during carnival festivities in Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. (Elbit Systems)
TEL AVIV — From Israel’s Golan Heights border with war-torn Syria to Brazil’s Bahia carnival capital on the Atlantic coast, a new system that mates forensic memory and target detection with numerous sensor-fused video streams is demonstrating persistent, broad-area surveillance for military and policing missions.
Developed by Haifa, Israel-based Elbit Systems, the land-based GroundEye and aerial SkEye generate simultaneous streams of high-resolution video to multiple users over wide areas, alerting them to intruders, vandals and other preprogrammed targets of interest.
Elbit demonstrated GroundEye for the first time during carnival festivities in Sao Salvador da Bahia, where the system, installed atop a lighthouse, supported authorities monitoring the millions who attended the weeklong event.
“The successful demonstration of Ground-Eye attests to our ability to develop solutions for civilian applications … and positions us as leaders in the growing field of homeland security,” Elbit President and CEO Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis said in a March 4 release.
The company said GroundEye is based on technology developed for the airborne SkEye, which was part of a video presentation at the 2013 Paris Air Show. Executives here said they have not yet received permission from Israeli security authorities to release details and promotional material pertaining to SkEye.
In an interview this month, an Israeli military officer said SkEye was first demonstrated in the November 2012 Pillar of Defense operation in Gaza. He described it as providing multitudes of “high-quality soda straws” of surveillance imagery with “a type of cognitive capability … that significantly enhances the [capabilities of] young female observers we count on to monitor our borders.”
Since then, according to another officer with command responsibility for Israel’s Lebanon and Syrian sectors, the SkEye has been integrated into Israel’s digital command-and-control network for surveillance and control of the country’s northern borders.
Packaged in a pod for deployment on aircraft or ground-based towers, the surveillance system allows operators in command centers kilometers away to monitor multiple events across vast territorial sectors.
According to Elbit marketing data, the system retains memory “both in the area and time dimensions,” providing “immediate and convenient access” to prerecorded imagery for forensic purposes.
“If an event is missed in real time by an operator, it is not lost forever,” the company noted.
The system autonomously creates a video archive of ongoing and past missions, allowing rapid investigations categorized by time, location and event. Elbit says it also distributes data and reports of events, operational details, still images and video clips.
“In contrast to current surveillance systems, which typically provide a single user with a single video stream covering a small area, GroundEye allows several simultaneous users to independently probe any region of interest anywhere in the entire sector. … Multiple events can now be simultaneously dealt with in real time, or, if missed in real time, as soon as an operator is available,” Elbit said in its inaugural March 4 announcement of the GroundEye system.
Without going into details, Elbit said GroundEye fuses data from several sensors, using specialized electronics and software to process and control the imagery.
In a recent interview, Machlis said SkEye and its ground-based variant are the fruits of significant independent research and development funding, which the company aims to leverage into the dual-use and commercial markets.
A company executive said GroundEye will be demonstrated later this month in Rio de Janeiro as a critical component of Elbit’s remote surveillance Safe City concept. ■