Helios Environmental Intelligence Platform: transforming traffic cameras into a weather surveillance network
Brian Bell Exelis, Inc. Geospatial System- Environmental Intelligence Boulder, Colorado
The presentation will describe our approach and success of transforming disparate traffic and surveillance cameras into an autonomous, persistent weather surveillance network powered by intelligent analytics to derive real-time weather conditions. The Helios Environmental Intelligence Platform (a.k.a. Helios) is a novel technological approach for helping people and organization better prepare and respond to weather related events. Across the United States, tens of thousands of cameras monitor outdoor conditions, traffic flow, facility security, railroad property and other surveillance activities. Helios leverages these cameras, enabling users to monitor weather conditions on a hyper-local scale for areas and locations of interest. Helios aggregates images from disparate camera networks into a single source, and applies intelligent analytics and image processing to transform the single-purpose surveillance images into data-rich, multipurpose content. The result is relevant, localized, real-time intelligence about current environmental conditions enabling enhanced situational awareness and for better informed and timely decision making for people monitoring and managing weather events. The analytics engine produces a data product that can be incorporated into forecast models to increase accuracy and pinpoint current conditions. Helios integrates on-the-ground surveillance with conventional weather-tracking technologies to help identify events as they unfold, minute-by-minute, mile-by-mile. When adverse weather threatens, images and video from a nation-wide network of traffic and surveillance cameras are displayed on a map accompanied with National Weather Service warnings, and other relevant weather data. Helios can create real-time notifications for high impact phenomena through proprietary detection algorithms developed by Exelis. Notifications allow users to quickly view corresponding camera imagery for verification and closer monitoring. Helios also provides real-time video and time-lapse views, which are stored and available for post event analysis. Through Helios' interactive on-screen visualization, users can integrate multiple weather observation and data layers, such as clouds, radar, NEXRAD and fixed stations as complementary content. Helios provides the real-time access to observations at a hyper-local scale needed to fill observation gaps to comprehend the environmental conditions in an immediate area and make better informed decisions to protect life and property. The presentation will demonstrate that the applications for Helios extend to virtually any enterprise affected by or needing to respond to weather events, including disaster planning and emergency response; supply chain and logistics management; transportation, utilities and agricultural management; Insurance and post-disaster assistance; and broadcast weather outlets and other media. Also included in the presentation is approach and results of our intelligent analytics engine that is capable of detecting environmental conditions at a high level of confidence.