Milestone Systems helps revolutionise harbour safety in Danish project

AI and video technology revolutionise harbour safety: University of Aalborg’s award-winning research

The University of Aalborg in Denmark has achieved a significant milestone in harbour safety technology through a collaborative project with Milestone Systems. The innovative use of video technology and synthetic datasets in Danish harbours has earned the prestigious Danish Spar Nord Foundation Research Award. This accolade recognises their groundbreaking research in detecting fatal accidents in harbours using AI-trained models for thermal cameras.

Milestone Systems has supported this research project, enhancing AI capabilities of thermal cameras combined with their video technology software. This advancement aims to monitor and assess unusual behaviour, ultimately increasing safety in harbours worldwide.

Addressing a Global Concern

Globally, 236,000 people drown annually, with Danish harbours witnessing numerous drowning incidents over the years. Between 2001 and 2015, Denmark lost 1,647 lives to drowning, with a quarter of these tragedies occurring in harbours. Recognising the urgent need to prevent such accidents, a research team at The University of Aalborg leveraged AI and video technology to improve safety in Aalborg Harbor, one of Denmark’s busiest ports. Their efforts resulted in the creation of the largest outdoor thermal dataset for video analytics, covering a nine-month period.

Innovative Approach to a Complex Problem

Replicating the specific activity of people falling into a harbour is neither simple nor ethical in real-world conditions. Volunteers cannot be asked to fall into the water for safety reasons. The research team addressed this by using a test-dummy filled with warm water, detectable by thermal cameras, along with a large collection of annotated thermal images. This combination enabled AI models to be trained to detect and alert rescue teams promptly if a person fell into the harbour.

The researchers also developed an advanced synthetic dataset to train AI models on the sudden, involuntary movements involved in falling. This dataset included scenarios with wheelchair users, skaters, and bicycle riders, ensuring the AI model could recognise a variety of situations.

Real-World Impact and Future Applications

“By understanding normal behaviour on the waterfront, the model can detect abnormal events, such as a person falling off the dock, and immediately trigger an alarm. This allows rescue personnel to respond quickly, even in cases where the accident occurs without witnesses,” explained lead researcher and Ph.D. student, Neelu Madan, from The University of Aalborg.

Beyond saving lives, Neelu Madan’s research showcases the power of synthetic data in training AI models for scenarios difficult or unsafe to replicate in real life. Neelu highlighted that the same model could be applied in other situations, such as manufacturing, to improve production processes and prevent costly errors.

A Groundbreaking Partnership

Combining AI and video technology is setting new safety standards across the transportation sector, promising to save countless lives globally as this technology is adopted more widely. The successful partnership between The University of Aalborg and Milestone Systems has demonstrated the immense potential of video technology and AI to benefit society.

“We are incredibly proud of Neelu and excited about the potential applications of her work. The development of the thermal dataset by The University of Aalborg and Milestone Systems at Aalborg Harbor represents a groundbreaking step forward in video technology, providing the community with the largest annotated thermal dataset,” said Rahul Yadav, Chief Technology Officer at Milestone Systems.

This collaborative effort marks a significant advancement in harbour safety, exemplifying how innovative technologies can address real-world problems and create a safer environment for all.