CSIR showcases innovative security technology


The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has displayed a number of innovative technologies at the Securex fire and security exhibition in Midrand, including a 360 degree helmet camera and smart streetlight that can track people and vehicles.

The smart helmet developed by the CSIR has six cameras and microphones to give 360 degree video and sound coverage, which is streamed to a control room. It was designed after the 2012 Marikana massacre, in which 14 people were killed, and is aimed at riot situations where the wearer can be tracked and monitored and footage sent to a control room for evaluation.

The microphones in the helmet are linked to a gunshot detection system, which then identifies and pinpoints the source of the shots. An integrated GPS tracks the helmet’s wearer and gives his or her precise location.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has expressed interest in the helmet, which is fairly unique compared with other body camera solutions, as it provides 360 degree coverage.

Also on display at Securex was a smart streetlight, which incorporates LED lights and a camera. The camera detects when a person or vehicle is approaching, and activates the LEDs for greatest efficiency. The light can be programmed to operate at certain times only.

The camera uses facial recognition technology to identify and track people – a CSIR technologist said it can find missing or wanted people and wirelessly send out alerts. It can also recognise number plates. A GPS system provides location, and can indicate a person or vehicle’s direction of travel.

The smart street light can be retrofitted to existing poles – only the head of the street light needs to be changed.

The third item showcased by the CSIR was a compact camera system, comprising infrared and colour cameras for day and night operation. The system can detect vehicle number plates, and via GPS, indicate where vehicles are passing. Development of this system began three years ago, originally for the Kruger National Park, to detect poachers’ vehicles. The Kruger is currently upgrading some of its border gates with number plate recognition and other technology in an effort to control poachers and their vehicles.

Testing of the camera system is still underway, but the CSIR is working on pre-production models.

The CSIR was present at Securex between 30 May and 1 June at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, in order to market these products to industry. As a research institute, the CSIR develops and tests new technologies but does not mass produce them.