Port of Calais: Transforming surveillance

Calais is one of Europe’s busiest passenger ports. To ensure the security of people and goods – and to combat illegal immigration – the port commissioned Thales to supply a surveillance and access control system.

In December 2009, the Port of Calais was inundated by travellers unable to reach the United Kingdom after extreme weather conditions brought channel tunnel train services to a standstill. The unexpected influx of travellers – and the unusually cold conditions – created a potentially critical situation. Events of this sort are unusual, but they underline the importance of effective safety and security systems.

An expanding mission
The Port of Calais is responsible for ensuring the physical safety of passengers, vehicles and goods whilst effectively combating illegal immigration. This mission is having an ever-increasing impact on both the port’s operations and its budget. In 2008, safety and security accounted for more than 15% of the port’s turnover (€73.7 million).

The Calais Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), which manages the port installations, has carried out major investment programmes to strengthen its systems. It spent €6 million in 2000 and €7 million in 2005 on fencing the port and setting up a videosurveillance and access control system.

This is the background against which Thales won the contract to ensure the safety of the entire port zone and the control of pedestrian and vehicle access in 2006. “The aim was to secure the zone, in other words, to know who was in it,” recalls Jean-Louis Kanatchian, a Thales’ sales manager responsible for critical infrastructure, including ports and airports. “But you must remember that the zone covers 85 hectares!”

The Port of Calais in figures

Safety and security are key issues for the Port of Calais, as the figures for 2008 show:
More than 11 million travellers (80% of the traffic to and from the UK port of Dover),
including 15,595 illegal immigrants (nearly double the 2007 figure),
almost 2 million tourist vehicles,
1.8 million road haulage vehicles,
more than 36,000 train and ferry movements, and 40.4 million tonnes of goods transited through Calais’ cross-channel and commercial ports.
The “Calais 2015” project provides for the extension of the port and its infrastructure, and will confirm Calais’ position as the leader in cross-channel shipping.

The project included installing equipment to control access, such as revolving doors for pedestrians and badge readers for personnel authorised to enter the port zone. 50 IP (Internet Protocol) cameras monitor the 8,000-metre long fence, the single public entry point to the site and various crucial locations – because it is not only the perimeter that needs to be monitored. “A port comprises a number of vital infrastructure elements,” continues Mr. Kanatchian, “such as oil storage tanks, bulk carriers, a gas depot – there are many areas that need to be protected.”

Intelligent supervision
All the images and data from sensors are fed back to the monitoring station and displayed on a multi-screen array. Thales’ comprehensive experience in integrating complex systems enabled it to bring together the various components of the solution in only three months. “We had already undertaken similar projects in the ports of Nantes and Saint-Nazaire,” explains Mr. Kanatchian. The group also drew on its experience in implementing intelligent and biometric access controls.

Many ports around the world face challenges similar to Calais. Ports are points of rapid passage between nations, which means they are confronted by the issues of illegal immigration and the need to identify people accurately. Thales has created a biometric identification system (TAMMIS – Thales automated multi-modal identification system), which is a powerful tool in the battle against identity fraud. The TAMMIS solution has also recently been selected by the French ministries of the Interior and Immigration.

Meanwhile, the Port of Calais is launching “Calais 2015”, a huge new expansion scheme. The project, which will begin in 2010 with the extension of a new quay, will make Calais the leader in cross-channel shipping.

Thales Group - Calais
© Port de Calais

Hervé Couret

Three questions to ...
Hervé Couret, Security Manager of the Port of Calais

What are the special features of the Port of Calais?
Hervé Couret: With the decentralisation act, the Port of Calais became the property of the Nord-Pas de Calais Regional Council. The Council awarded the operating concession to the Calais Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), so that is the body that manages the site. This is important because it means that the state has transferred its responsibility in this area.

How do you ensure the safety and security of a site like this?
H.C.: We are only responsible for safety and security on land. The systems we have introduced – for example, video surveillance – mainly provide passive assistance, they are not active measures but may serve as deterrents. Practically-speaking, since the safety, security and operation of the port have been regrouped under a single department, our role consists of ensuring safety and security without affecting the activity of the port.

How do you see the future of this security system?
H.C.: At the moment, it’s working, so it’s a good thing! We have no operating problems, the products implemented are stable. But some components are no longer stocked by their manufacturers so we will have to look at replacing them. That is the case with the video image storage solution for example. But it isn’t a bad thing, because the technology has evolved, and is now standardised and more efficient.