Camera network to keep the capital under observation

CCTV and radar equipment linked to a central communications system will keep a 24-hour watch on 'critical infrastructure assets'.

Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // Security chiefs are to build a network of surveillance towers around the capital. The towers will be equipped with radar-enabled cameras linked to a central communications system to protect the emirate's critical infrastructure assets.

The Dh33 million (US$121m) system was announced yesterday by Staff Col Ishaq al Beshir, the director of operations for the Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA). Installation will begin in April and is expected to take eight months. The new cameras, bought from the American company ICx Technologies, will add to the CNIA's already widespread network around Abu Dhabi, providing additional coverage and replacing some older units.

The announcement comes as Dubai Police have been earning widespread praise for the sophisticated surveillance techniques with which they tracked the suspected killers of the Hamas leader Mahmoud al Mabhouh, found dead in his hotel room in January. Last month they revealed dramatic video footage of the hit squad arriving at Dubai International Airport, at various locations in the city including the hotel in which the assassination took place, and the gang's departure just a few hours later.

Speaking at the International Security National Resilience conference at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Col al Beshir said: "CNIA always seeks out the most innovative and effective techniques and equipment in order to fulfil its mission of protecting Abu Dhabi's critical infrastructure assets." He said the camera surveillance towers would cover all critical infrastructure. He did not specify the locations or the number of cameras.

Col al Beshir also announced yesterday a Dh4.5m system of thermal imaging cameras to be installed along the coast. It would detect a threat before it could enter the target area, he said. "These deals were made to ensure that we are covering the whole area and that we are able to identify a threat before it occurs," Col al Beshir said. The coastal cameras, purchased from the Abu Dhabi-based company International Golden Group, are day-night vision thermal devices that can operate in all weather.

They are able to track the movements of ships within 15km of the shore. "These report ship-size measurements and the target's distance from shore in order to determine the amount of time needed to reach the vessel," said Abdulla al Menhali, the head of the sensor section, communications and IT at the CNIA. Col al Beshir said the entire Abu Dhabi coastline was a priority. "There are areas where there are radar but no cameras, and there are other areas where there are cameras but no radar," he said.

The CNIA said future infrastructure would be designed to withstand changing weather conditions, such as the storms of the past two days. The authority also announced a Dh6.7m deal to buy identity cards with laser engravings for CNIA staff. The cards are made by the German company GDM. "The goal of producing these smart cards is to ensure the security of our employees' ID cards and prevent cases of forgery or fake identities, especially since the CNIA is a national security body," Col al Beshir said.

"This system was produced especially for the CNIA. There is no software similar to it in the world. We will also be adding more features to the cards in the future so they can serve as a multifunctional database." The CNIA has started implementing the ID card project.