An all-seeing eye for the future of surveillance?

Sudhindra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India SAARC

By Sudhindra Holla, Director – Axis Communications, India & SAARC

Radar is a detection technology that is being used all around us, although it is invisible to our eyes it is omnipresent. Often called as the ‘blind’ technology as it cannot visually define things but can detect them. From police using it for traffic control to space and aviation organizations using it to map Earth and other planets. Thus, application of this technology becomes vast and can be used for commercial purposes as well as military purposes.

While radar was developed in 1940’s, the origins of this technology can be traced back to a device called Telemobiloskop, invented in 1904 by German electrical engineer Christian Hulsmeyer (1881 – 1957).

The word “radar” stands for radio detection and ranging. Just like how our eyes detect the light reflecting from objects to comprehend what the object is. Radar uses electromagnetic waves to understand the nature of the object. Take an aeroplane flying in thick fog at night the pilot can’t see so they use radar to map the route of the aircraft.

Application of Radar technology globally and in India
Primary applications of radar technology fall under three categories, to detect the presence of an object at a distance, to detect the speed of an object, and to map the topology of planets and moons. But as the technology has improved over the past years radar is now being used for even consumer tech across the globe.

In India however the radar technology is primarily used in Defence. One of the best success stories of radar technology in India is the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) developed by Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

Different radar tech used in Perimeter defence and Meteorology in India
Over the years borders have become highly vulnerable without a system to help predict crime along the borders. However, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has used its own all-seeing radar imaging satellite to search and predict crimes along borders in the recent past. This use of RADAR technology has increased India’s defences along the border and given India an edge in border surveillance.

Another important sector where radar technology is used in India is in the Meteorological department. For sever weather phenomena like cyclones, thunderstorms, and gust front India Meteorological Department (IMD) maintains a wide network of radars for the detection and study. Currently the department is using Cyclone Detection Radar (CDR) and Doppler Weather Radar (DWR).

Uses of radar in surveillance
Radar is still widely used for military needs across the world. However, in recent times, radar has found an increasing number of important civilian applications like air traffic control, weather observation, remote sensing of the environment, navigation, speed measurement for industrial applications and for law enforcement, space surveillance and planetary observation. The reason why radar has found its way into applications mentioned above is because of it being reliable and cost effective compared to thermal imaging and motion detection technologies.

Critical infrastructure is another industry where this technology is being used. In this area it’s mainly been utilized for marine and ground-based applications. These radar systems sometimes have long range thermal cameras and visible cameras to verify targets that are indicated by the radar.

As the world is moving towards a connected ecosystem known as Internet of Things (IoT) radar technology will most definitely play a major role. In future, radar will be fitted in fully automatic cars or something as small as a cell phone to sense micro gesture and use it as an input. Further it can be used in commercial security systems that can detect objects and locate people. Rather, as we improve our understanding of newer technologies, radar will help solve more problems. Also, as we keep pushing the scientific boundaries radar will become smaller so we can incorporate in smaller devices.

Another area where India can use radar technology would be to regulate sanitation and keep the environment clean. For example, the sanitation department of our cities can install CCTV’s with network radar detectors that can automatically track people who are dumping waste in unauthorized places. One of the biggest examples of this was seen in the city of New Orleans where the sanitation department used our Radar technology to detect illegal dumping sites and comprehend the perpetrators.

One more example of our security solutions can be seen in the adaptation of Security cameras by Minoh City in Osaka. Where the Minoh Police Chief asked the Mayor to install security cameras on city streets. They were concerned about a number of kidnapping cases of young children which had recently taken place throughout Japan and reports of what seemed to be attempted kidnapping incidents within the city as well, so the city council decided to install security cameras to ensure safety on the school routes to prevent such crimes against young children.

Advantages of Radar
The main advantage of RADAR technology is its ability to detect and penetrate through any condition such as darkness, haze, fog, rain and snow. Which means even in harsh conditions, data will be collected. It can penetrate insulators such as rubber and plastic so the signals will not be hindered from collecting data. Radar uses electromagnetic waves so it can be used in space and air. Further it can be used in several ways including stationary mode, moving mode, and two directional mode. Radar systems can map out positions of an object, calculate the velocity of an object in motion, and it can also measure the distance of an object from the transmitter.

The way forward
Recent breakthroughs in radar technology combined with a high demand for compact, affordable and high precision radar for military and commercial applications has led to a change. Blind technology such as radar will be used in conjunction with other technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and complementing visual/thermal video surveillance.

Some of the sectors the modern radar technology is being used are autonomous vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and various commercial or civilian applications. Moving forward in future radar technology such as the SOLI chip by Google will be used in multiple devices which can detect the health of a food item to recognizing the micro expressions of human fingertips. Even though Radar is a blind technology it has the capacity to become the all-seeing eye in the future.


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