Intelligent Monitoring System
- Surveillance camera network improves security and road safety in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Seamless transfer of technology and know-how to local partners creates job opportunities
- Real-time bus tracking improves convenience for users
Smart service provider overview
In addition to its expertise in satellite tracking and positioning systems, Systems & Technology Corp. (SYSTECH) has distinguished itself as a back-end systems integrator by giving operators the ability to effectively manage information in real-time to achieve the intelligent flow of people and materials. These solutions have been successfully deployed in an ever-growing list of regions and applications, such as intelligent monitoring and transportation systems in the Caribbean, and has attracted the attention of potential partners in Latin America.
SYSTECH won a tender by the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) to develop an intelligent monitoring system for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The small Caribbean island nation, with a population of just over 100,000, has long been a friend to Taiwan. The project aims to not only solve real issues for a diplomatic ally, but also create employment opportunities and foster goodwill between the two nations.
SYSTECH Sales Department Senior Manager Fred Wang said that Taiwan has been shifting its approach on foreign aid from direct injections of capital to providing sustainable assistance by capitalizing on the nation’s strengths, the high-tech and agricultural sectors.
The priority was initially on agricultural exchanges, but such investment does not create direct returns for Taiwan, he said, adding that the focus has been shifting to technology — not just telecommunications, but other areas, such as digitalization of documents and automated teller machines.
As SYSTECH was already focused on international trade, it has the ample experience necessary to successfully undertake the project in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as opposed to the difficulties a firm fully focused on Taiwan would encounter, Wang said.
The NT$23 million project primarily consists of an intelligent, real-time road junction monitoring system, with the capability to archive three months of surveillance footage and allow for data backups. Leaning on mature and proven technology commonly found in Taiwan, SYSTECH in March 2019 started the process of transplanting it to the Caribbean nation, beginning with the installation of about 200 surveillance cameras across the capital, Kingstown, and the establishment of a monitoring center at the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.
The principal goal of the system is to reduce the country’s relatively high crime rate, particularly theft. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is scheduled to hold general elections in December 2020 and public security is one area that has been receiving attention. Real-time surveillance across the capital allows police to more efficiently deal with any misconduct and provides an effective deterrent to crime.
The secondary objective is to improve traffic flow through real-time monitoring and big data analysis. While Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a small country — and therefore not plagued by severe congestion like in more densely populated places — there are still peak hours for traffic that require intelligent management to improve the lives of the general public. For example, if there is an accident on the road, the monitoring center can immediately analyze the situation and dispatch the necessary resources to ensure that traffic continues unhindered. This also requires the analysis of statistics on traffic, such as the number of vehicles that transit through a particular road and at what time.
Wang said that the center operates much like those found in Taiwan, with fixed duty officers monitoring conditions in real time, allowing them to instantly react to any situations.
While on a state trip to four of Taiwan’s Caribbean allies in July 2019, President Tsai Ing-wen visited Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where she presided over the inauguration ceremony for the system. However, as the installation work was still in its early stages, the system was not fully operational. Yet, SYSTECH was able to organize a number of exhibitions demonstrating the potential of the system.
Tackling challenges head-on with the right technology and personnel — seamless transfer of technology and know-how to local firms creates jobs
SYSTECH encountered a number of hurdles in deploying the monitoring system, particularly due to the long-distance nature of the project and vast cultural differences, but has overcome them by employing proven technologies and the right personnel.
Installing the network of cameras and establishing the monitoring center has proven to be the biggest challenge. The need to dig underground to reach power lines and other infrastructure has added an additional layer of complexity — communicating with local authorities. The language barrier was also a potential issue, as English is the official language of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, but SYSTECH’s International Sales Department boasts staff able to help with such communication problems, including personnel hailing from Central and South American countries, such as Nicaragua, Bolivia and Panama.
Fortunately, the telecommunications infrastructure in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is relatively mature, with 3G already widely adopted. SYSTECH has been collaborating with one of the two local telecoms, Digicel, which has been learning how to install components of the monitoring system. The installation team is comprised of Saint Vincentians — not Taiwanese sent to perform the work — primarily to create employment opportunities for locals, but also to ensure sustainability by providing them the technical expertise to handle any future maintenance needs.
Flexible back-end infrastructure creates opportunities for future expansion — real-time bus location updates and facial recognition for airport immigration control
Preparations are also underway on two additional projects for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The first is a smart bus network, similar to those seen by Saint Vincentian officials on visits to Taiwan. By leveraging its experience with vehicle tracking and monitoring systems, SYSTECH aims to provide the critical components enabling such smart infrastructure. The system will provide information to the monitoring center and, by extension, the back-end data center. This data can then be processed and distributed to a smartphone app, providing users with information regarding the location of buses and estimated arrival times.
The Saint Vincentian government has also expressed interest in employing facial recognition technology at Kingstown’s Argyle International Airport to monitor travelers’ entry and departure from the nation. For this venture, SYSTECH plans to again lean on existing, mature technology already in use in Taiwan, which it would transplant to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines — potentially reducing costs and implementation time. The facial recognition system would also eventually tie into the monitoring center, which would become the central nexus for a wide range of smart services.
Sustainability, after-sales support and other opportunities — a comprehensive GPS solution to meet all customer needs
SYSTECH’s strong suits are its focus on GPS trackers, a very important technical competency, and its ability to integrate systems to provide complete solutions, Wang said, adding that in principle, all of a client’s needs can be met through systems integration.
For example, the cameras used in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are not made by the company, but rather by another Taiwanese manufacturer that specializes in such equipment, GeoVision Inc. By focusing on its vast experience in integration, SYSTECH can prioritize tying various specialty hardware components into its back-end systems, which provide the brains for any operation.
The monitoring system in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is not scheduled to be fully operational until March 2020. However, even after implementation is successfully completed, the project is expected to continue until the end of the year, because in addition to hardware, local staff require training on operation and maintenance to ensure sustainability. After that, the company will continue to work with local authorities and provide support for the system.
Another Taiwanese firm is to be contracted to provide daily system maintenance and would be responsible for sending any equipment that requires repair back to Taiwan, Wang said, but added that SYSTECH, as the original contractor, has the ultimate responsibility to honor the warranty and provide support
SYSTECH will continue to work with the ICDF to establish similar relationships in other countries, Wang said, adding that it is already in talks to begin work on another project in Belize.
Guatemala’s ambassador to Taiwan has also visited the company’s offices to inquire about opportunities for cooperation, he said.
Systems & Technology Corp.
Vehicle monitoring system, facial recognition
- 200 surveillance cameras improve security and road safety in Saint Vincent
- Seamlessly transfer technology and know-how to local firms, creating jobs
- Vehicle monitoring system provides real-time bus location and estimated arrival time
- Planned facial recognition system at airport to assist in immigration control
- Comprehensive GPS-based integrated solution