Polish Borders Reinforced with a Seismic Detectors Network? [ANALYSIS]

November 9, 2017, 4:54 PM

Mindmade company, belonging to the WB Group, has created a conceptual system, the purpose of which would be to protect the Polish borders with the use of a network consisting of seismic sensors and ground-based cameras, with the whole package acting as the first line of defence for the Polish territory. The system would work together with a network of observation towers, that are being erected along the eastern border of Poland by the Polish Border Guard service.

The Mindmade company has attended the first conference concerning the protection of the eastern border of Poland - “Granice” [Borders] - held in Lublin, organized with an intention to address the requirements of the Border Guard, above all within the scope of perimeter control solutions. The challenge is quite significant, as the Polish Border Guard has already gathered relevant experience pertaining to protection systems that could analyze the mechanical vibration data gathered by the sensors arranged around the protected facilities, and thus the organ in question is capable to assess the products offered in this domain well.

Organizational scheme of the military-grade AMSTA protection system. Image Credit: Mindmade

Mindmade has proposed its Supervised System for Perimeter Protection known as AMSTA (Advanced Monitoring of Stand-off Areas), the main tasks of which include: automatic intruder detection, reconnaissance, controlled identification and reaction. AMSTA is based upon seismic sensors that are coupled with miniaturized identification cameras positioned nearby.

During the Lublin conference it was evident that the land barrier is being approached differently, in comparison with the solutions designed for the Polish Armed Forces, as the Polish military needs three types of the AMSTA detection systems to meet its requirements: mobile, quasi mobile and fixed variants, with the latter ones coupled with reaction systems. The reaction system may be formed by mine ordnance, including the MPBK-ZN Juka off-route mines, PPFW off-route anti-tank mines, or multidirectional WWG grenade launchers.

Initially, Mindmade had assumed that the Border Guard would be inclined to acquire stationary systems, without explosives embedded within the applied solutions. However, during the “Granice 2017” conference held in Lublin, it turned out that mobile systems could also be utilized to protect the limits of the Polish territory, with these systems being covertly deployed for 2 to 3 days, at locations unknown to the local community, which would provide surprise effect, when acting against the local traffickers and guides who help the illegal immigrants in crossing the border. 

Hidden Acoustic-Seismic Sensor: ASS. Image Credit: M. Dura

The stationary systems, on the other hand, are to be developed in a manner that would help the Border Guard in the process of integrating the equipment that is already being used with the newly acquired solutions, including the observation outposts/towers network featuring optronic sensor suites mounted on top of the structures. “The hardware on the ground and buried under it should be coupled with the devices on the towers”. In this way, the towers would “gather more information, coming from two environments: from the ground, and from the birds-eye view”.

Mindmade company proposes to utilize a barrier made out of seismic sensors on the ground, with those sensors being also supported by cameras, but without FMCW-class radars that could be embedded in case of the military variant of the system. Each and every signal that would be generated, should the barrier be breached, would be then directed towards the system management centre, where the operator will have an ability to use daytime and thermal vision cameras installed on top of the towers, or to send a patrol or reconnaissance UAV to the affected area.

AMSTA System operation scheme. Image Credit: Mindmade

The latest generation of cameras, two times lighter than their predecessors, and seismic sensors that are capable of working continuously for four years (not 2.5 years - which is a 1.5 year upgrade) were offered for the Polish Border Guard. Local communication systems have also been enhanced, with the communication being established “at a very low signal level, below the level ascribable to noise”. In this way the communications and information exchange within the system would remain undetectable for pro-grade SIGINT solutions. Moreover, data transfers within the system would be encrypted, and thus it would be very difficult for the potential adversary to decode the information exchanged in the network between the sensors.

What is the AMSTA System?

AMSTA project is a part of the POIG 1.4 programme and it was co-financed by the EU, between 2014 and 2015. As a result, a monitoring system that would provide coverage within vast areas was created, based on a network of ASS acoustic-seismic sensors and PSS picture stroboscope sensors.

PSS - Picture Stroboscope Sensor. Image Credit: M. Dura

The density of the ASS grid depends on the distance at which the seismic movement may be effectively analyzed. Currently this is defined by a distance of around 75 metres for people, and 600 metres for tracked vehicles. The above means that the sensors need to be arranged within a grid with spacing of no more than 150 metres. Moreover, contrary to the military, the Border Guard is interested in creating two lines of detectors. Having a knowledge of sequence and time ascribable to activation of the specific detectors, not only one may detect the fact that the protection zone is being penetrated, as the intruder’s speed and direction are also possible to assess.

Two types of ASS sensors. In the back - PSS - Picture Stroboscope Sensor - turned upside-down. Image Credit: M. Dura

ASS sensor has been designed and developed, in its entirety, by the Mindmade company. The seismic sensor element itself is the only component procured externally, abroad. The Mindmade company stresses the fact that, in line with the Polish law, the device has a proprietary character, as it now features an entirely new set of characteristics. Each and every of the ASS sensors utilizes proprietary software, ignored-signatures database (for prevention of false alarms), as well as original algorithms for processing of the signals received.

Moreover, the ASS sensors also feature a microphone and an acoustic signals receiver. As of now, the sensors have not yet been used to detect the intruders, however, the Mindmade designers are willing to expand the capabilities of the AMSTA system in the future, by introducing the ASS sensors into its structure. It is assumed that this would be beneficial, e.g. within the scope of drone detection.

Camouflaged PSS - Picture Stroboscope Sensor. Image Credit: M. Dura

The PSS sensors are capable of monitoring 400 metres sector perimeter, which means that each of the devices may be effectively coupled with three (up to 5) seismic-acoustic sensors. Each and every of the PSS sensors may be activated when they receive a signal from the coupled ASS sensor. The PSS sensors may also be triggered independently, when the intruder comes close enough, or remotely, by the operator.

In case of the solution that is going to be used by the Border Guard, the officer monitoring the AMSTA system, at the management center station, will have a choice, and should the intruder be detected: he may identify him/her with the use of optronic systems on the towers or, should this imagery be obscured (e.g. due to the terrain form), he may also use the PSS sensors’ integrated cameras.

ASS Acoustic-Seismic Sensor - exposed and camouflaged. Image Credit: M. Dura

The sensors are small and easy to hide - they feature an optronic system embedded within them. Each and every system features daytime and night vision infrared cameras, with the latter ones operated within the range of 8-14 µm. The cameras offer no optical zoom capability but the imagery stays in focus within the distance from 2 to 500 metres. The cameras, thus, are well suited for recognition, rather than being used for accurately identifying the intruders, especially in tough weather conditions.

Photos of train carriages at distance of 200 metres, taken with the use of the ASS sensor camera, after systemic post-processing. Image Credit: Mindmade

Each of the PSS sensors allows for automatic detection of the moving objects that cross the field of view of the camera (or activate the ASS sensors), and for taking automatic photos (1 FPS), that are later selected, processed, compressed and sent to the management centre.

AMSTA is operated with the use of two separate communication networks:

  • LCS (Local Communication System) network, tasked with exchanging the data between the individual ASS and PSS sensors arranged within the monitored perimeter;

  • SOCS (Stand Off Communication System) network, allowing for exchange of the information between the monitored area and the operator/management centre.

To make the above possible, each and every ASS sensor and optronic system feature a communications module allowing for creating mesh connectivity at a very low signal level, below the level ascribable to noise. Whereas the individual elements of the AMSTA system may communicate with each other, also acting solely for the purpose of data transfer, as a radio repeater.

PSS sensors may also feature extra communications module, providing the SOCS link with the operator or server. In case of the Border Guard, observation outposts may act as a link with between the sensors and the control system, featuring proper means of radio transmission and permanent power supply. This is also enhanced by the fact that the stand-off module may be easily removed from the optronic system, acting in a standalone setting. Such separation secures the communications, should the barrier be damaged or destroyed in some way.

During the peacetime, the “stand-off” communications are based on the cellphone network. Mindmade company also stresses the fact that it may offer other crisis/wartime solutions, based on the radio systems proposed by the WB Group, operated within the frequency ranges of: 350 - 430 MHz and 1.3-1.45 GHz.

Operator’s panel with a map, on which the ASS sensor locations are marked, with imagery provided by the coupled optronic system. Image Credit: M. Dura

The selection of the equipment utilized within the Management Centre depends solely on the user-defined requirements, as AMSTA is being offered with software packages in variants for an operator station or a stationary location, where the information is received and where there is an ability to control the whole system.

In military applications it shall be assumed that AMSTA would be capable of triggering the automatic reactions, e.g. by activating the anti-tank mines. Similar non lethal solutions could be applied in case of a system dedicated for the Border Guard, such as smoke grenade or illuminating flare launchers.

MC management centre application screenshot. Image Credit: Mindmade


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